Look Homeward, Angel
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Jerry & Judy Potter

Concord’s Willows Theatre, under the direction of Richard Elliot, brings a classic American novelist to light in their production of Look Homeward, Angel. In the 1920s Thomas Wolfe wrote a long semi-autobiographical novel by the same name. The novel depicts Wolfe growing up in Asheville, North Carolina. The southeast, famous for its old cemeteries adorned with tombstones of early settlers and Civil War heroes, provided fertile soil for Wolfe’s father’s business. A tombstone maker, William Oliver Wolf became an ultimate symbol to Thomas who depicts his father as caught up in the all-consuming fire of man’s struggle between life and death.

This struggle transfers well to the stage in Ketti Frings’ adaptation of the novel into a play. There are many deaths in this drama that father and son do their best to overcome in very different ways. There is the death caused by the dysfunctional family that both men find themselves trapped in; the death of nostalgia, the past and the inability to move on, and, in the case of Thomas, youth’s need to grow up and move out of the stifling atmosphere of being someone’s child to becoming a self actuated individual.

While the play provides many scenes of very powerful family drama, it is firmly grounded in comedy. The parents, played by Barbara Grant and Ed Sarafian, do a great job of emphasizing the comic elements of a marriage gone bad and Richard Gillespie, as the son, provides a powerful performance as the young writer.

But it’s hard to single out any one performer with such an excellent cast. When you add the imaginative rolling set design of Joseph Harris and the special directorial insights of Richard Elliott, you have a performance that will lift your imagination to the foggy mountains of North Carolina where dramatic tensions are so taut that they will explode in the stage of your emotions.

For tickets or more information call (925) 798-1300 or visit the Willows web site: www.willowstheatre.org.

Current / Touring / Archives / Links / Film / Video / Links / Home