AISLE SAY San Francisco


by Anna Ziegler
Directed by Meredith McDonough
Presented by & at Magic Theatre
Building D, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco / (415) 441-8822

Reviewed by Judy Richter

An upper middle class couple visit their son at Camp Kickapoo in Maine and return to their New York City home with their family dynamics drastically altered. That's basically what happens in Anna Ziegler's "Another Way Home," receiving its world premiere at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco.

The action starts in the present, when Lillian (Kim Martin-Cotten) and Philip (Mark Pinter) Nadelman describe that fateful visit to their 17-year-old, Joey (Daniel Petzold). It smoothly moves to the past when the events unfolded, but often returns to the present.

To say that Joey is a difficult loner would be an understatement. Having been variously diagnosed with conditions like ADD, ADHD and other problems, he's sullen, rude, disrespectful -- all manifestations of anger and depression. His behavior rouses his parents' anger, leading him to disappear for many hours. In turn, his distraught parents become angry and upset with each other, causing them to question their marriage.

Also figuring into the action are the Nadelmans' other child, 16-year-old Nora (Riley Krull), who has stayed home, and Mike T. (Jeremy Kahn), Joey's camp counselor. Unlike Joey, Nora is bright and outgoing, causing no problems. Mike T. is a quiet young man who provides some valuable insight for the Nadelmans.

Running about 90 minutes without intermission, the play is well cast with each of the talented actors creating believable characters under Meredith McDonough's sharp direction. The standout is Martin-Cotten as Lillian, the loving, concerned mother who is forced to re-examine her own life as well as her marriage and family.

The minimal set design is by Annie Smart, who also designed the character-specific costumes. Lighting by Paul Toben helps define moods, while Sara Huddleston's sound design is subtle yet specific, such as the sound of waves lapping against a lake shore.

Despite the play's serious themes, it has some lighter moments. For example, Nora, a huge fan of Taylor Swift, belts out parts of the country singer's hits to explain her feelings. In keeping with the play's overall tone, though, the ending is ambiguous as both Philip and Lillian express some regrets but seem determined to forge ahead.

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