Somewhere towards the middle of Anna Ziegler’s Another Way Home, Philip turns to his wife Lillian after searching for hours for their son and demands, rather than asks of her, “What else can we do?” to which Lillian hilariously replies, “We could panic!” This is just one of the many hilarious, but truthful arguments that the two have throughout the play.
The play is set against the backdrop of a tranquil summer sleepaway camp; however, the action primarily occurs within the interior spaces of its small cast of characters. At its core it is a play about coping with growing older, and the people that you chose to bring your life: friends, husbands, wives and the people you are forced to be with: your family.
…a show that is such a celebration of family, warts and all.
Shirley Serotsky, whose work has garnered her several Helen Hayes nominations, directs a cast of DC all-stars. Naomi Jacobson is delightful as Lillian Nadelman, the neurotic, but loving mother of Joey and Nora. The action is punctuated by hers and Philip’s self-aware explanations to the audience, but it is the letters where she truly brings empathy to the character. The scene where she finds out what her son has been doing with all of her letters is another incredible scene. Recently seen in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s The Critic/ The Real Inspector Hound, two shows that required two completely different very physical depictions of the character, Jacobson unsurprisingly excels in the subtle physicality of Lillian.
Rick Foucheux plays Philip, her “over the hill” husband, struggling with his fading youth, and his children growing up. He realizes how fragile his little family unit is and although he pays the bills, he hasn’t always provided for his family emotionally. His most compelling and exemplary moment is when he describes tucking in a young Joey.
Chris Stinson plays Joey, Philip and Lillian’s awkward and angsty son, and the focal point of the show, or rather, his absence is. Stinson perfectly embodies the teenaged boy in his physicality, and the strained quality of his voice.
Thony Mena, whose credits include the Irish National Tour of A Few Good Men, makes his Theater J debut as Mike, Joey’s counselor. His most truthful moment is when he describes his family life to Joey, and why he wants to go to school for drama.
Shayna Blass adds some extra comic relief in the character of Nora, Lillian and Philip’s daughter who has a particular affinity for a certain blonde popular music star who may or may not be in a legal spat with Youtube right now. Nora observes poignantly “Isn’t it amazing how these strangers enter our lives?” The moment when she describes Joey’s interaction with a popular boy at school is where she puts the soul of her character.
Paige Hathaway, whose work was seen in the Folger Theatre’s productions A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, brings to life a design that is malleable and transformative in the way that only a set for a piece of theatre can be. The portraits of the forests juxtaposed to the faded paintings of cityscapes in Nora’s corner of the stage was a truly unique visual.
The lights of designer Harold F. Burgess II are gorgeous, from the setting and rising of the sun, to the subtle detail of the water under the bridge. His transitions are especially appropriate during the scenes where the Nadelmans directly address the audience.
Debra Sivigny brings a very realistic design to the characters’ costumes, complete with camp t-shirts for the two campers, a t-shirt for the more casual Joey and a polo for the more put together Mike. The parents start off in nondescript earth tones and become more colorful as the play progresses.
Theatre is nothing if not a communal art, so it fitting that the Jewish Community Center house one of the finest theatres in DC. It is also fitting that they put on a show that is such a celebration of family, warts and all.
Advisory: Mild Language.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
Another Way Home runs through July 17th, 2016 at Theatre J, 529 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. For tickets, click here.