|'Sticks And Bones' Delivers Hard Knocks|
|Wednesday, 04 April 2012 02:22|
The “average American family” comes in for some harsh knocks in “Sticks and Bones,” the 1971-72 Tony Award-winning play by David Rabe which opened Friday evening in South Bend Civic Theatre’s Warner Studio Theatre.
Billed as a “black comedy” and directed by one of the area’s finest, Scott Jackson, it is more black than comic and definitely not what you would call a “fun” evening.
It’s aim, however, is to make the viewer think and in that, even 40 years later, it certainly succeeds. One of a trilogy of plays about the Vietnam War by Rabe, a Vietnam veteran, it looks (no pun intended) at the homecoming of a blind vet, the reaction of his family and, conversely, his reaction to their expectations of his returning quickly to a “normal” life
A glance at the program, which lists the primary characters as Ozzie, Harriet, David and Ricky, is the first clue to Rabe’s juxtaposition of the popular 1950-60’s TV show, touted as America’s first “reality” sitcom, with the darkly real situations faced by Vietnam veterans
Ozzie (Paul J. Hanft) and Harriet (Melissa Gard) are anxiously awaiting the arrival of David (an excellent Jason L. Clark) escorted by a Sgt.Major (Charlie Florance) whose brusque manner is less than empathetic and who hurries off to make more“deliveries.”
Harriet hovers, offering cookies and coke; Ozzie is eager to make sure his own work on tanks, trucks and jeeps is acknowledged as a part of the war effort; younger brother Ricky (Richard Isaacson) breezes through, guitar in hand and camera ready to catch the family group smiling, not an easy task
Father Donald (Brad Mazick) avoids being part of the initial welcoming committee but returns to attempt a violently unsuccessful reconversion of the bitter David. Behind his reflective glasses, David sees images of the war, especially a young Vietnamese girl, Zung (Amorena Ruffolo), with whom he was involved and who was a victim of the conflict. There is no doubt that while David’s eyes are blind, his family is afflicted with a much deadlier form of darkness as their prejudice and bigotry are peeled away.
To underscore the glossy façade of the era, Jackson uses clips of the commercials of the day — Pepto-Bismol, Kodak, Listerine, etc — which certainly set the time but interrupt the flow of the action. And a laugh track in certain spots was more puzzling than necessary.
“Sticks and Bones” is not a pleasant evening of theater, but it brings home sharply lessons that unfortunately still need to be learned.
“STICKS AND BONES” plays at 7:30 p.m. today and Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the theater at 403 N. Main St. South Bend. For reservations and information, call 234-1112 or visit www.sbct.org
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 02:03|