BWW Review: DA at Virginia Repertory Theatre
Virginia Repertory Theatre's intimate space at the Hanover Tavern is the perfect venue for Hugh Leonard's Drama Circle and Tony Award-winning play, DA. Set in Ireland in the 1960s, the production is equal parts memory play and Irish comedy.
Charlie (Landon Nagel), a successful writer living in London, returns to his childhood home in Dublin following his father's (Alan Sader) funeral only to find the patriarch's ghost loath to leave the house. As he rummages through his Da's photographs, letters and other possessions; other ghosts from his past begin stirring, including his mother (Kelly Kennedy), his former employer and mentor (John Moon), and his younger self (Trevor Craft). The visitors force Charlie to submit to his own memories and retrace hilarious and painful moments, as the complex realities of his childhood come to a head.
Director Steve Perigard has assembled a fine group of Richmond performers for the 1978 Tony and Drama Circle winner. It's because of his tight direction and their spirited performances that this ordinary play works so well. Terrie Powers' scenic design makes great use of the cozy space and is complemented by BJ Wilkinson's lighting. Sue Griffin's costumes add authenticity to the 1960s Irish atmosphere. Amanda Durst serves as the production's dialect coach.
Landon Nagel is fully committed as the somewhat aloof Charlie. His Irish tongue is well practiced and the most consistent in the cast. Some of the finest shades of Nagel's performance are detected when he's a bystander to his own memories. Trevor Craft gives a strong performance, traversing some of the more delicate and sometimes awkward ground, as the younger version of Charlie.
Kelly Kennedy is well cast as Mother, a delicate woman who has her own mean streak. As Oliver, Ford Flanagan effortlessly bounces from the youthful friend to the adult with troubles of his own. John Moon is memorable as the contemptuous former boss and mentor.
Alan Sader's Da is the perfect balance of stubborn and jovial. Da is a complicated character and Sader gives a layered performance, gallivanting and sometimes singing, bringing great humor to the ostensibly cantankerous character.
DA isn't everyone's cup of tea, but Virginia Repertory Theatre's production is enjoyable and features some of the area's strongest talents. DA runs through August 20 at Hanover Tavern.