Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Kim Taylor

Robert Hamm, who recently starred in Honour at Playhouse West, directs Ross Valley Players’ production of Da. The title has nothing to do with the current use of the word which is an expression of the over obvious, yet the open mouthed expressions on the faces of the younger and older Charlie quite often seem to be expressing that very word. In this play, Da is the name for the father of an Irish family, but his effect on his son Charlie usually leaves the young man stupefied at best, frustrated and infuriated at worst.

The play opens right after Da’s (Ralph Miller) funeral with an older Charlie (Paul Collett) attending to some of the paper work. The problem is that Charlie never really came to terms with his father in life. Charlie’s way of dealing with the old man was to move away from him and send him money in the mail. But Charlie soon discovers that what he had been trying to escape is now haunting him. Da in death has become stronger than Da in life, and Charlie can’t seem to shake the old man from his consciousness.

When someone we love dies there is a sense in which they are always with us. The way someone says a certain phrase, a particular fragrance in the air, can bring back a memory of that person. But when a loved one dies, especially a parent, before we’ve come to a full understanding and acceptance of them, or to put it another way, before we’ve been able to forgive them for bringing us into this cruel world, they have a way of haunting us with such persistence that it takes on an air of dark comedy.

A great cast complements Hamm’s direction, providing an entertaining and thought-provoking evening. For tickets or more information call (415) 456-9555.

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