“Charles Ives Takes Me Home” at The Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre (Closed June 29, 2013)

By Jessica Dickey
Directed by Daniella Topol
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

In the new play “Charles Ives Takes Me Home,” playwright Jessica Dickey tackles an old theme of parent child conflict choosing to elaborate on the relationship between a professional violinist father and a strong willed, sports minded, basketball playing daughter who are both consumed with their individual passion. The twist lies in the introduction of a third character, the composer Charles Ives who exists in the mind of the father John who is struggling with his musical success or for that matter life failures. He is the perfect narrating referee, since Mr. Ives was a star athlete at Yale before becoming one of Americas most noted composers. His works intricately involved polytonality, which blends solo parts composed in different keys creating dissonant harmonies. Daughter, coach Laura and her father have distinct aspirations that certainly exist in different keys searching for some sort of harmonious relationship. This clever device and the rapid fire comic but strained dialogue keep the 85 minute conflict moving but unfortunately does not provide any valid substance to the plot. It is merely one collision after another.

What make this a worthwhile trip to The Rattlestick Playwrights Theater are the remarkable performances of all three actors. Kate Nolan inhabits her character with sheer intensity capturing passion and competitive aggression with incredible comedic ability, while still sustaining undeniable vulnerability. Drew McVety turns in a convincing performance of a wounded soul trying to recover from disappointment and regret, still struggling for success as a father and a musician. Henry Stram as Charles Ives exudes charm and intelligence even when quietly observing the action from the sidelines. Both these actors also display their musical ability playing violin and piano respectively. The script has a few problems and the concept is old but the integrity of the performances brings life and interest to a tired situation.