Home Front

Home Front Christy Pusz and Fletcher McTaggart.
Home Front Christy Pusz and Fletcher McTaggart.
Christy Pusz and Fletcher McTaggart. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

“Home Front” By Daniel Algie,
Directed By E. Randahl Hoey

The violence of distant war affects the heart of America

in a gripping new drama inspired by Euripides’ “Herakles.”

“Home Front” is a highly-charged, explosive play by Daniel Algie that reveals how the violence of distant war affects the heart of America. Euripides’ “Herakles” is re-imagined as the unsettling homecoming of a Vietnam MIA. Like a tragic poet, Algie rips into the souls of two children, their grandfather, mother and soldier-father shattered by war. His realistic, intimate drama hits with the force of a mass outcry in our war-weary age. It is being presented by La MaMa from November 9 to 26 as a world premiere directed by E. Randahl Hoey.

The play takes place on the porch and in the front yard of a Midwest farmhouse during a summer’s weekend in 1972. Harrison, an honorable Army corporal missing in action for seven years, has been declared dead by the military. His wife’s attempt to deny official notification of her husband’s death has led her to a nervous breakdown and hospitalization. Her father-in-law has offered shelter to his son’s adored two young boys and their unstable mother. However, his dark view of his deceased wife and his missing son suggests an emotional disconnect laced with anger and despair.

When Harrison unexpectedly comes down the dusty country road, we learn that he has been imprisoned and tortured by the Viet Cong. Ultimately repatriated, he has slipped away from a stateside Army hospital and brought his shattered spirit to his Midwestern home in hopes of making his ravaged soul whole again. He savors the rediscovery of his family and looks forward to the solace of his childhood friend and Vietnam buddy, who enjoys the normalcy of marriage and a new family. However, there is tragedy brewing, and his friend’s law and order job as Deputy Sheriff implodes their friendship in ways that deliver unexpected consequences.

“Home Front” parallels the plot of “Herakles” in dark and suggestive ways. Euripides, a veteran of the wars of his time, wrote poignantly about war and its enduring wounds. His misunderstood masterpiece, also known as “Herakles Gone Mad,” reveals both the catastrophe of war and the radiant power of love. The language of Mr. Algie’s play is contemporary realism, yet the Euripidean themes reverberate. “Home Front” is a soaring, sublime disquisition on the suffering of war, the role of heroism and the healing power of friendship and community. The character of Harrison as an honorable corporal broken by war is sensitive and modern. It is in tune with our concerns on returning veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The website of “Home Front” relates Mr. Algie’s characters to the personnae of the Greek legend and offers other valuable perspectives. Please see: http://www.homefrontplay.org/about_herakles.htm

Playwright Daniel Algie wrote “Home Front” over a period of ten years. This play will be his long-awaited and much-deserved New York debut. A reclusive former Jesuit, his writing career dates back to the ’60s, when as an emerging playwright, he was sponsored by the late Arthur Miller, who arranged for Audrey Wood, the iconic agent for Tennessee Williams, to be his literary representative. Staged readings of his plays were performed at the Manhattan Theatre Club and the Mark Taper Forum Lab in the ’70s. Marshall Mason invited Algie to join the Circle Repertory Company as a result of the staged reading of Algie’s “Honey of Generation,” directed by E. Randahl Hoey. Around this time, Mr. Algie wrote “The Fisher King,” which was produced at the University of Hawaii. He set aside his literary career to be a caregiver for a number of years. Mr. Algie now resides in Las Vegas, NV and returns to the stage with this new, explosive drama.

E. Randahl Hoey has been enjoying success as a director for over 25 years. His credits include more that 70 theater and opera productions throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He directed the East Coast premiere of “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” In Canada, he directed “Three Men on a Horse” and the Canadian premiere of “Crimes of the Heart” for the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. He directed “A Broadway Benefit” starring Lynn Redgrave, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, Irene Worth, Betty Comden and Adolph Green with chorus and orchestra to raise funds for the World Hunger Foundation.

Liza Minnelli and Michael Feinstein joined in the gala “Charles Dickens Celebration” that Mr. Hoey directed for USC’s School of Music Scholarship Fund. Musicals he has directed include “Of Thee I Sing,” “Carnival” and “High Spirits” all for the Berkshire Theatre Festival. He has directed 14 operas including “Tosca” and the 35th anniversary production of “La Boheme” for Michigan Opera Theatre during their 2005-2006 season. He has also directed network television, including NBC-TV’s “Santa Barbara.” Mr. Hoey recently completed writing a feature length screenplay, “Tiger Lily,” an erotic thriller. His company, “The Entertainment Studio,” is currently developing an animated television series, ‘Amigo Mystic Hero,” for young Latino audiences.

Harrison’s wife is played by Christy Pusz, who understudied on Broadway in “The Odd Couple” (appearing with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick), “Dinner at Eight” (Lincoln Center Theater) and “La Boheme.” Harrison’s father is played by Joseph Jamrog, whose Broadway credits include “On Borrowed Time” with George C. Scott, “The Miser” with Philip Bosco, both at Circle in the Square. He has appeared Off-Broadway at Circle Rep, Manhattan Theate Club, EST, Soho Rep and Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and appeared in films by Sidney Lumet, Alan Pakula and other noted directors.

Harrison is played by Fletcher McTaggart, who has appeared Off-Broadway in “Rose Rage” and “American Dreams” and toured nationally with The Acting Company and Utah Shakespearean Festival. He holds an MFA in classical acting from George Washington University and has appeared on “Sex and the City.” Harrison’s war buddy is played by H. Clark, whose credits include “The Lightning Field” at The Flea, “Flotus” at Playwrights Horizons and “One Arm,” directed by Moises Kaufman at The Public. Harrison’s two sons are played by professional child actors Connell Cole and Anthony Duke Claus.

Set design is by Josh Zangen. Lighting design is by Joel E. Silver. Costume design is by Erika Lilienthal. Sound design is by Juan Cruz Masotta. Casting is by Cindi Rush.

The show runs from November 9 until the 26, 2006 at La MaMa E.T.C., 74A East Fourth Street, Manhattan, First Floor Theater. Thursdays through Sundays the show starts at 7:30 pm and there are Sunday matinees at 2:30 pm. There will be no performance on Nov. 23 (Thanksgiving). To buy tickets, which cost $18, call the Box office at (212) 475-7710. For more information visit the play’s website: www.homefrontplay.org

Jonathan Slaff writes on cultural events from the brainy, the edgy and the good. He helps us keep ahead of the curve in the world of the arts and culture.

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