Two Thirds Home
Padraic Lillis' compelling new play explores the fraught relationships between two brothers and their deceased mother's lesbian lover.
As the play begins, brothers Paul (Aaron Roman Weiner) and Michael (Ryan Woodle) return to their childhood home following their mother's funeral. Michael is intent on gathering his mother's papers and getting out of there as soon as possible, while Paul wants to linger and reminisce. The situation is made more complicated by the presence of Sue (Peggy J. Scott), their mother's lesbian lover who now lives in the house.
The script deals with the trio's fraught relationships in a complex manner, although it occasionally verges on the overly melodramatic. As more and more information is revealed, alliances amongst the characters shift and audience sympathies change. What is most interesting is the manner in which the deceased's internalized homophobia has affected this dynamic. While alive, she did not publicly declare her own lesbianism and would refer to Sue as a friend. Now that she's dead, how much of the life she kept secret should be shared?
While there's plenty of angst expressed in the proceedings, there's also a healthy dose of humor. Lillis' dialogue is sprinkled with witty exchanges and darkly comic situations. The relationship between the brothers, in particular, seems based upon knowing just how much they can get away with when teasing each other. For example, after Paul confides that he's having an affair with a woman who has a long-term commitment to her lesbian partner, Michael tells him, "I don't think this is what they mean when they say boys always marry their mothers."
All three actors provide emotionally grounded performances. Weiner's Paul often serves as peacemaker between the other two characters, while also displaying his own loneliness and regret that intensifies the rifts within this awkwardly dysfunctional family. Woodle indicates some of his intentions in the early part of the play, but scores with a deeply felt speech towards the end. Scott captures the passion Sue felt for the woman that only she thinks she understood, as well as the anger about being set apart from the rest of the family.