I wasn’t familiar with “I Never Sang For My Father” before I saw this excellent production at Two Roads Theatre. The original play was produced on Broadway and starred Lillian Gish and Hal Holbrook, among others. It was then made into a big Hollywood film a couple of years later with Gene Hackman, Melvyn Douglas and Estelle Parsons. So it has an impressive history to be sure.
The son of aging parents picks them up from a New York City train station after escaping the winter cold in Miami.
The son, played beautifully by Shayne Anderson, has a difficult relationship with his stubborn father, played by the brilliant Dana Kelly Jr. He and his mother are very close and she clearly dotes on him. Becky Bonar performs with intuitive grace as the mother torn between the two men in her life.
From the very beginning, we can sense the atmosphere between father and son. Resentment, disappointment, misunderstanding, and many years of unspoken and unresolved pain.
How frustrating it can be to see how some things between families never change. Why do we not talk about anything of substance? Why do we let things stew and fester until they consume everything, destroying love and warping our memories of home? This play is a masterclass in the understated and ignored. The actors parry and dance about one another, the father mostly oblivious to the effects his off-hand remarks and micro management has on those around him. But he is old and beginning to show his weaknesses, so the audience has more empathy than the son, which presents a fascinating dilemma. Who do we pull for? Who do we identify with?
It’s a truly wonderful play and it requires actors with depth and subtlety, we all have people in our lives who are difficult to love. But, isn’t that the challenge?
To love in spite of all our differences, to see past everything that divides us, and instead to search for what makes us all human.
“I Never Sang For My Father” was an unexpected pleasure. The characters are real and vibrant and so wonderfully performed by absolutely everyone. Interesting, profound, charming, gentle, layered and skillfully forged people that seem so familiar, so a part of our collective family histories, no matter what our backgrounds. Bravo!
Two Roads is a lovely little theatre in the heart of Tujunga Village and is a perfect venue for this kind of intimate and heartfelt portrait of an American family facing their own mortality.
The cast of I Never Sang For My Father running at the Two Roads Theatre in Studio City features the talents of Shayne Anderson, Dana Kelly Jr., Becky Bonar, Mary Carrig, Cheyann Dillon, and Paul Buxton.
The production team includes César Retana-Holguin (Set Designer), Michael Mullen (Costume Designer), Brie Mann-Hernandez (Stage Manager), William Kwon (Sound Designer) and Jordan Jones (Assistant Stage Manager).
Runs through October 23.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm
Two Roads Theatre
4348 Tujunga Ave., Tujunga Village, CA 91604