Sixty Miles to Silver Lake
Dan LeFranc's uneven two-hander about a father and son is engaging, thanks partly to Anne Kauffman's nuanced staging.
Following his divorce, Ky (Joseph Adams) only gets to see his son Denny (Dane DeHaan) on weekends, driving the boy from soccer practice to Ky's home in Silver Lake, California. As they travel, the two discuss a range of subjects including work, friendship, sex, religion, music, video games, Denny's mother, and potential visits to Disneyland. At first, the audience is led to believe that their talk is happening on one particular day, but it gradually becomes clear that the play continually jumps back and forth through time covering a period of at least seven years.
While some audience members may find this confusing, it's not actually necessary to understand exactly when each conversation is taking place. The playwright occasionally drops in hints as to Denny's age or things going on in his life, but the chronology isn't as important as the doling out of information. Some of the earlier conversations between father and son take on new meaning as the show goes on. For instance, Ky seems overly harsh about his son's participation in soccer, which he refers to as "Daycare with cleats," but the reasons for those feelings become clearer later in the play. The circling back to the same conversational subjects shows the routine that the two fall into, and demonstrates the old adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
DeHaan does a stellar job as Denny, who often communicates with sullen body language. The youthful-looking actor also manages to be believable in all of the various age ranges he plays without being excessively mannered. Adams is less successful, indicating Ky's attitudes towards certain subjects. But the two actors work well together to make the father-son dynamic credible.
Kauffman's direction of her cast and attention to nuance prevents the play from seeming overly static. She's aided by the excellent sound design by Leah Gelpe that incorporates car, road, and environmental noises in addition to musical underscoring, as well as by Tyler Micolau's lighting, which is likewise nicely attuned to shifts in mood and driving conditions. However, she and set designer Dane Laffrey don't seem to have trusted in this work enough, and have included some special effects which are frankly unnecessary.