Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sons of the Prophet

Stephen Karam got his start in the deep dark chambers of the Roundabout Underground at the Laura Pels Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre (i love saying that mouthful) on West 46th Street a few seasons ago with Speech & Debate.  Well reviewed and well received see my own prior review here, the staff at the Roundabout have promoted him one floor up to the main stage with his latest work, Sons of the Prophet.  Quite a nice promotion for the young and talented playwright.

If you're going to a play for action, adventure, non-stop laughter, or any other sensory overload experience - this is not the play for you.   This play, simply put, is a matter-of-fact, slice-of-life, take-it-for-what it's-worth, darkly funny, but intensely serious play that is only magnified by the fine actors of all ages presenting it on the stage.

Taking the helm is one to today's extremely handsome, adaptable and charismatic actors, Santino Fontana, as Joseph (last seen at the roundabout as Earnest in The Importance of Bring Earnest).  Joanna Gleason takes on some of the comic relief in her hysterically funny and ironically honest portrayal of Joseph's boss, Gloria.  Supporting Mr. Fontana quite aptly are the adorable Chris Perfetti (Charles, his brother), an incredibly hunky Charles Socarides (Timothy, a reporter), Yusef Bulos (Bill, his uncle) Jonathan Louis Dent (Vin, the local football star) and Lizbeth MacKay and Dee Nelson (both playing multiple and ocassionally hysterical ensemble characters).

The circumstances of the play are as follows:  Lebanese father of two gay sons (what are the chances?) killed in car crash caused by teenage prank executed by one local black (mulatto) football star.  Controversy ensues when boy sentenced to juvenile detention after championship football game.  Family and community torn over this decision.  Boys turn to family, faith and friends to help soothe, sort out, and understand what's best for all concerned.  Throw in a dash of timely health-care issues (Joseph has to take a job Gloria to get health benefits for his ailments) and a few social, religious and political barbs and you've got a cauldron that simmers evenly and emits a delicious aroma that permeates the theatre entire show.

No flying spiders.  No trampolines.  No flying monkeys.  Just a great night of stage acting and theatre that leaves you with a few things to think about on the way out.  Bravo Mr. Karam and to the entire cast.