The Good Father Reviews
Please check out the enthusiastic reviews from:
Jim Donick at Northern Dutchess News
Edward Meisel at The Poughkeepsie Journal
Anne Pyburn Craig for the Examiner
(along with Anne's article in Chronogram)
Tangent Theatre Company approaches perfection with
‘The Good Father’
by Jim Donick, June 5, 2012
Irish actress Noni Stapleton and Tangent Theatre's Artistic Director Michael Rhodes were riveting in Tangent’s recent production of Christian O’Reilly’s ‘The Good Father'
Downtown Tivoli—such as it is—would not traditionally be the first place one might look for high-end theatre in the Hudson Valley. Thanks to the arrival of the Tangent Theatre Company, the latest theatre troupe to make their home in Dutchess County, one can now count on even little Tivoli to provide world-class theatrical evenings.
Founded in New York City in 2002, Tangent Theatre moved north a few years ago to the mid-Hudson Valley, home to two of the founders, Artistic Director Michael Rhodes, and Producing Director Andrea Rhodes.
They’ve taken over an old carpentry shop on Broadway in Tivoli and transformed the space into a surprisingly intimate 45-seat theater there. “The Good Father” is Irish playwright O’Reilly’s first full-length script. The play made its debut in Galway in 2001 to critical acclaim. It was the joint winner of the 2002 Stewart Parker New Playwright Bursary.
Irish theatre has a grand and glorious tradition. Though “The Good Father” is not exactly Yeats’ “The Countess Cathleen,” it is a fitting heir to the tradition of that great man as well as John Millington Synge, James Joyce and a host of others. It’s a powerful script.
The story is simple enough. Two people from very obviously different sides of the tracks meet at a New Year’s Eve party in Dublin. She’s reasonably well-to-do and just getting over the breakup of a long-term relationship that may have been a bit more toxic than she wanted to admit. He is an unlikely hero, a working-class house painter who’s a mite shy in the social graces department. They finish the evening in a drunken tryst and she becomes pregnant. The meat of the play then is their coming to grips with the disparity in their backgrounds, which is mostly an issue for her; their finally falling in love, and his development into a deeply caring and nurturing “Good Father,” not just for the babyto-be but for the evolving family that is the three of them.
Emotionally, the development of their relationship has as many ups and downs as the wildest roller coaster on Coney Island. That said, it never sinks into cliché but meets life and all of its emotional complications head on. We honestly can’t remember the last time we were as taken with a dramatic script and the possibilities for characterization that it offered. Mr. O’Reilly’s effort leaves us in awe.
Tangent Theatre Company’s production approaches the flawless. Considering the fact that it is performed in a hastily converted carpenter shop with neither sets nor curtain and surrounded by 45 folding chairs, one can begin to appreciate the magnitude of that last statement—not to mention the degree of difficulty. It was a most amazing evening of theatre and played to a sell-out house.
There are only two roles in the show: Jane, the educated and well-to-do woman; and Tim, the working-class house painter. Noni Stapleton, an Irish actress from Dublin, makes her American debut with this show and we pray it won’t be her last appearance in this valley. Her face consistently conveys as much as her words and she never puts a facial expression or a word anywhere but exactly where they belong.
Tim is played by the Tangent Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, Michael Rhodes. He’s an Equity Actor and it shows. His lower-class Irish accent is spot-on; and his emotional morphing from the beerdrinking, uncommitted sort of semi-lout into the responsible, nurturing lover and father is nothing short of inspirational. He pulls it off without a hint of contrivance in a genuinely impressive performance.
The chemistry between the two actors had to be seen to be believed. They must finish the two hours and a few minutes that the show occupies completely drained. We were exhausted just watching them expend what must be nearly every drop of emotional energy they possessed. It was, indeed, quite a night.
This production was scheduled to close on Memorial Day but was extended for a fifth weekend and finally closed on June 2 after a successful five weeks. They could credibly take it to New York for an off-Broadway run that could last months.
With a script as memorable as “The Good Father” and a performance like this, we can only conclude that the world will be a nicer place with more plays from Christian O’Reilly and the Hudson Valley will be culturally richer with even more productions from the Tangent Theatre Company.
Tivoli and Tangent Theatre are now firmly planted on the theatrical landscape of the Hudson Valley. We wish them continued success.
Jim Donick is an award-winning automotive writer who dabbles from time to time in other topics, including theater and travel. He is the editor of Vintage Sports Car magazine and contributes to a number of publications.
"The material was so tightly and nicely constructed and just let us look into a very private space. Both actors kicked a**; vulnerable and broken and in need of something they can't name. And I dig the space, I mean eight lights, two chairs, a table. Go." -- David Simpatico
"We were blown away. I was so proud of tangent and of you guys and of Tivoli and of me. Felt like a real special moment. Loved the play no end. Kudos ad infinitum." -- Rob Schott
"Wow. The Good Father is a sharp, smartly written play, acted with genuine affection and insight. Thank you for bringing it to the Hudson Valley and reminding me of what is possible only in a theater."
-- Stephen Mucher
"The Good Father was a powerful and riveting drama. I laughed and cried, caught up in all the emotions. The actors were superb."
-- Ann Vermehren
"Had a great night at the Carpenter Shop - excellent performances. Definitely recommending this play." -- Claire Lambe
"This is my favorite theater!" -- Bob Martin
Characters, chemistry make 'Good Father' a winner
by Edward Meisel, May 25, 2012
The setting of the Carpenter Shop Theater itself perfectly amplifies the intimate dramatic experience that is Christian O’Reilly’s play “The Good Father.” Nestled unassumingly among the quaint wooden storefronts of Broadway in Tivoli, this converted theater houses a mere 45 seats and a performance space lit strategically by eight simple lights.
The effect, however, is altogether disarming in its sincerity and purity. The play, its actors and the venue all act in concert to create a moving experience that radiates a powerful and realistic simplicity that somehow only enhances its poetic imagism.
Driving home from a recent performance, I found my thoughts shuffling through the vivid snapshots of memory, image and emotion as though reading through a newfound William Carlos Williams poem:
so much depends upon
a new babe’s crib
yellow and glazed in hope
This staging of “The Good Father” by the Tangent Theatre company marks its American premiere. Under the direction of Greg Skura, actors Michael Rhodes and Noni Stapleton together craft a performance that is at times playfully amusing and painfully heart-wrenching. The reality they create is both intimate and stark — woven with threads of common humanity stretched so taut they resonate clearly and deeply when plucked.
Rhodes is Tim, a painter by trade who, one drunken New Year’s Eve, befriends an equally drunken Jane, played by Irish actress Stapleton. Their first and inebriated encounter later results in Jane’s pregnancy. Throughout the play’s first act we learn through extended exposition that Tim is simple yet good-natured while Jane, a professional lawyer, harbors a biting wit that often commands a sharp tongue. They are a seemingly unlikely couple, but by the end of the first act, Rhodes and Stapleton negotiate the subtle give and take of their characters along with their respective vulnerabilities with an expertise that leaves us believing fully in their possible happiness.
Rhodes is thoroughly convincing in his simple affability and because of this his performance in the second act is all the more powerful when it gives way to a series of frighteningly raw responses. Likewise, Stapleton skillfully crafts her character’s walls of protective isolation in such a way that she is all the more endearing when she ultimately opts to burn them down.
“The Good Father” is a play that will have you laughing one moment and crying unabashedly the next. It is a play driven mostly by character rather than plot, and as such it requires a sensitive touch and a definite chemistry between the two principal players. Stapleton, who flew in from Dublin specifically for this role, effectively creates that chemistry along with Rhodes, and what they create together is a powerful stage performance that shouldn’t be missed.
Catch stunning 'The Good Father' at Tangent Arts
by Anne Pyburn Craig, May 24, 2012
Michael and Andrea Rhodes have a special affinity for Irish theatre, and in premiering the award-winning modern Irish play "The Good Father" by Christian O'Reilly at their newborn Carpenter Shop Theatre in Tivoli, they have imported both the book itself and the female lead, Noni Stapleton.
It's a winning combination. The story, about a drunken hookup that leads to a pregnancy and brings together two very different individuals, twists and turns like real life. Michael Rhodes brings a poignant, befuddled but winning decency and sensitivity to his performance as the male lead; Stapleton's attempted middle-class reservations about him melt believably as the pair reveal themselves to one another and the audience and are blindsided by tragedy.
The intimate theatre setting and simple staging place us in the same room as the characters struggle to make sense of what life has dealt them, allowing the actors to wring full value from the tightly written script- the jokes are pointed and hilarious, the fights so evocative as to be terrifying. The direction by Greg Skura and lighting by Vin Roca are spot-on.
The birth of the Carpenter Shop bodes well for Hudson Valley theater lovers in search of a local fix, shining in the atmospheric village of Tivoli like a well-set gem.
Please click here to read Anne's article on Tangent in Chronogram!