From Shakespeare to Tracy Letts, dysfunctional family plays have long been a theatrical staple, sometimes to the point of triteness. The trick is to give the genre a swift kick and get it going in a new direction.
Playwright Andrew Dolan puts his new play, “That Good Night” at the Road Theatre Company, neatly through the goalposts. And although Dolan seems overly fond of “surprise” plot twists that would have sent O. Henry back to the drawing board, his play is mostly a delight.
The unlikely moral center of the piece is Sean (Bernie Zilinskas), a drug-addicted clown who still lives with his mother, Millicent (Judith Scarpone). Poisonous patriarch Jim (Leon Russom) has lingered in a coma for months. Now Jim’s adult children have gathered to pull the plug – mostly with a vast sense of relief.
Stephen Gifford’s deceptively cozy living room is subtly grimy – a visual metaphor for deeper troubles afoot. Jeremy Pivnick’s lighting design is unobtrusively evocative, while David B. Marling’s sound is spot-on, right down to the coffee perking offstage.