Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: HOMETOWN BOY is Beautifully Grotesque at Actor's Express

The world premiere runs through November 28th.

Review: HOMETOWN BOY is Beautifully Grotesque at Actor's Express

Welcome, ladies and gentlefolk, to the modern-day revival of Southern Gothic. HOMETOWN BOY at Actor's Express is a beautifully grotesque show about how secrets are like leeches you can't remove until you've faced them. Full of turmoil, lies, and revolting truths, HOMETOWN BOY challenges not just your perception of the South, but your place in it.

First things first, it felt so good to be back in a packed theatre seeing a brand new show. World premieres are special; attending them means being a part of new voices taking the stage to be heard for the very first time. While Broadway and West End shows are world-renowned, Atlanta is one of the only places you can watch a show about the South in the South. This is where great plays start - in your own backyard.

There should be a content warning for this show. I won't spoil anything, but I will say that this show contains intense themes that could potentially be triggering for those struggling with sexual trauma. It holds no punches, and sometimes life can get really dirty.

Here are a few resources I recommend for anyone who may be currently struggling with sexual abuse, sexual trauma, or just know that something is wrong but don't know where to get started:

List of National Hotlines (
National Sexual Violence Resource Center (

Keiko Green's return to her Marietta roots is an exhilarating voyage into the Southern Gothic genre. Her dynamic writing, pressure-cooker sense of tension, and the secrets she fills this show with are so fascinating. It's impossible to look away. Seeing the South through new eyes brings to the stage the truth of how diverse and beautiful the South is. Yes, it is a place full of bloodied hands - but it is also where a lot of people call "Home." Another thing Green does brilliantly in her show is toy with the concept of "true villains," and whether or not they can be forgiven - if they are real.

Ryan Vo as James presents a pained portrait of internalized trauma - how so often right when we need ourselves the most, we fail. His delicate balance of hope, grief, and rage as he faces living demons leaves you equally heartbroken and infuriated with him. Vo's external machinations of his character's internal monologue are fantastic to watch.

Michelle Pokopac's commitment to her character's truth brings an eerie verisimilitude to her character, Becks. You know this woman - perhaps you have friends like her. And it's because you know her that Pokopac can win you over immediately and make you care about Becks as if she is your friend.

Walking as if wearing secrets as slippers, Glenn Kubota's Walter is an old, stubborn, and proud man who clings to his castle as greedily as Smaug to his treasure. Tough on the outside, Kubota occasionally gives us a glimpse into Walter's mind; and when he does, the magnitude of his feelings falls like an avalanche and it's a wonder he hasn't drowned yet.

As charismatic as always, if not more so this time, Chris Kayser takes the stage with ease as Philip. A natural politician, Kayser breathes real life into the man with the money. While not obvious, violent, or malicious, Allison Dayne's Sam is sinisterly selfish. Dayne perfects the Southern Charm veneer as she pushes away Sam's past as hard as she possibly can.

Finally, Daniel Parvis plays into a softer side of himself that is at times a spiritual experience to watch. With perfect candor, Parvis delivers a passionate defense of people who have made mistakes and deserved second chances. His character, Collin, is one of the few people I can believe have genuinely changed themselves for the better.

With bits of stuff and trash shoved into every corner of the set, I was surprised at how flexible it was. Such intense and realistic staging sometimes made the transitions lag as whole houses were torn apart and built again. Every moment in between scenes added more and more weight to what the characters left unsaid, and I found myself itching with anticipation. Clever lighting accompanied the fleshed-out set as practical lights dotted the character's faces with saturated hues.

The costumes were equally as effective and transitional. In the show's modern-day setting, the characters' clothing blended into the story, bringing the actors' performances out front and center. New days meant new outfits, and that thoughtful attention to detail made the story feel real.

In the end, everyone faces the urge to go home. The question is - is it worth it? Keiko Green's thrilling return to her home here in the South through the eyes of her flawed characters in HOMETOWN BOY at Actor's Express is a must-watch this season.

HOMETOWN BOY runs through November 28. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM with no show on November 25. Tickets start at $20 and may be purchased online at or by calling 404-607-7469.

Tenor Nicholas Phan To Sing St. Matthew Passion with NY Philharmonic Photo
Fresh from performances as the Evangelist in Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Hong King Philharmonic under the baton of Jaap van Zweden, three-time Grammy-nominated tenor Nicholas Phan sings the same role with the same conductor leading the New York Philharmonic this spring (March 23–25).

Peter Fogels TIL DEATH DO US PART... YOU FIRST! is Coming To The Savannah Comedy Revue in  Photo
On a balmy Saturday night in Florida, Academy Award Nominee and Broadway Legend Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale, Modern Family, Godfather of Harlem) attended a performance of Comedian/Playwright Peter Fogel's hilarious auto-biographical solo show.

Kennesaw State Universitys Bailey School Of Music To Present 
Annual Collage Concert, Feb Photo
Kennesaw State University's Bailey School of Music will present the annual Collage Concert at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11. Led by Interim Director Dr. Julia Bullard, the Bailey School of Music will present the signature production for the 17th year in a row as the sole fundraising concert for music scholarships for students. The Concert offers something for all musical tastes, from symphony orchestra to jazz, opera theater, and even video game music.

Kennesaw State Bailey School Of Music To Host Anthony McGill And The Pacifica Quartet Photo
Kennesaw State University's Bailey School of Music will host clarinetist Anthony McGill and the Pacifica Quartet on Friday, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m.

From This Author - Ella Outlaw

Ella Outlaw is a Mississippi Writer, Atlanta Producer, Atlanta Theatre Critic, and Your Friendly, Neighborhood Tarot Reader. 

IG: ella_outlaw_

Twitter: ella_outlaw_

&nbs... (read more about this author)

BWW Review: INTIMATE APPAREL is Delightfully Shocking at Actor's ExpressBWW Review: INTIMATE APPAREL is Delightfully Shocking at Actor's Express
April 11, 2022

Dark black curtains close in around a tight stage – the audience sits together in one section facing three separate beds neatly spaced out and decorated thoughtfully to indicate three separate playing spaces. The lighting is low and hugs you and your fellow audience members even closer to the playing space. The ambiance is delightfully intimate. 

BWW Review: WHEN LAST WE FLEW Falls Flat at Out Front TheatreBWW Review: WHEN LAST WE FLEW Falls Flat at Out Front Theatre
April 4, 2022

Imagine, if you will, a small theatre tucked away in midtown Atlanta. Affordable valet parking attendants cheerfully whisk your car away as you climb stone steps up to a lively and stylish dining area. You enter through doors and metal grates to see a parade of pride flags swinging proudly up and down a long hallway. Welcome to Out Front Theatre. 

BWW Review: A CHORUS LINE at City Springs Theatre is Masterfully NostalgicBWW Review: A CHORUS LINE at City Springs Theatre is Masterfully Nostalgic
March 22, 2022

A Chorus Line at City Springs Theatre is a masterful revival of a well-loved classic. Featuring choreography by original cast member and Tony Award-Recipient Baayork Lee, the show feels overwhelmingly nostalgic, as if you had been transported back to 1975.

BWW Review: DREAM HOU$E is Poignantly Relevant at The Alliance TheatreBWW Review: DREAM HOU$E is Poignantly Relevant at The Alliance Theatre
February 12, 2022

Playing on The Alliance's Hertz Stage, DREAM HOU$E follows the story of two Latinx sisters - Julia and Patricia Castillo - as they sell their family home on a popular home renovation TV show. Foundations crack as the walls begin to talk and not a single tile in the house is without a story to tell. [Written by Ella Outlaw]

BWW Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL is Magnificently Heartwarming at The Alliance TheatreBWW Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL is Magnificently Heartwarming at The Alliance Theatre
December 6, 2021

If you're looking for a Broadway-level production in Atlanta, look no further than the Alliance Theatre. With a new script, a new score, and new costumes, A CHRISTMAS CAROL at The Alliance Theatre is a spectacularly hopeful revival of the classic Christmas story. | Ella Outlaw