AISLE SAY San Francisco


By Wesley Moore
Directed by Richard Seyd
Presented by Magic Theatre
Magic Theatre
Building D, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco / (415) 441-8822

Reviewed by Judy Richter

After its world premiere in London a year ago, San Francisco playwright Wesley Moore's "A Reckoning" is making its American premiere at the Magic Theatre in his hometown. The play also is set in San Francisco, where a 27-year-old woman and her estranged father get together a year after the cancer death of her mother, his wife. The father and daughter in this two-character play are portrayed by real-life father and daughter Kevin Tighe and Jennifer Tighe.

In the play, Irene goes to visit her father, Spencer, a successful interior architect who has moved out of the family home into a high-rise luxury apartment in downtown San Francisco. After some strained, idle chatter, she tells him that she has begun seeing a therapist, who has helped her examine some memories of her childhood. Most of these memories involve what she sees as emotional mistreatment by her father. His recollections of those incidents differ from hers. She wants him to go to therapy with her, but he refuses. She sues him for emotional abuse, and the case goes to a jury trial -- a too-public showdown in what should be a private though emotionally fraught situation.

Irene seems one-dimensional, embittered toward Spencer and apparently unable to forgive. For his part, Spencer was not a model father or husband. He's arrogant, filled with the sense of entitlement that some rich, successful businessmen get when they're used to everyone's being deferential to them. He's part of the old boys network, while she bounces from job to job and boyfriend to boyfriend.

Nevertheless, he has his redeeming qualities. One of them is that he truly loves Irene and apparently did the best he could to be a good father despite his shortcomings. Moreover, his various struggles and encounters with her cause him to reflect on his life and family and to try to reconcile with her. However, she hasn't reached the point where she can accept his tentative overtures.

John Iacovelli's set design facilitates quick scene changes, aided by York Kennedy's lighting and Bill Williams' sound. Costumes are by Maggie Morgan.

Running for about 85 minutes without intermission and directed by Richard Seyd, the play touches on some fundamental father-daughter issues, but it feels contrived.

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