There’s nothing outwardly remarkable about the family featured in Tyler Dean’s new play Run-of-the-Mill. Cynthia (Brit Cooper Robinson) is the tightly-wound wife and mother trying to make ends meet, and Darryl (Patrick Rybarczyk) is the laid-back loving husband who’s struggling finding work after having been laid off. Their oldest son David (Mike Hahalyak) is having issues with his wife, and is crashing at the homestead while he tries to work things out. Their youngest son Colin (Dan Toot) has returned unexpectedly from Iraq with a secret. Meanwhile, their daughter (Andrea Decamp) is preparing to graduate from college and figuring out her next steps in life.
All very normal things happening throughout homes across America. The point of Dean’s perfectly-pitched play isn’t to shock or reveal some dark family skeleton. This isn’t August: Osage County. It’s a simple, straightforward family drama about everyday people going through everyday struggles. We just happen to be stepping in to observe at a time when a lot of the crap has hit the fan, and they now have to take stock and sort it out.
What makes this play work so well are two things: the solid writing, which is filled with humor, heart and sly observations about the complexities of family dynamics, and the acting. Most notably the acting — this ensemble really takes this above-average work and makes it sing. I was particularly impressed with Virginia Marie as Donna, the wife of oldest brother David. She powerfully played the complexities of a women still in love with a man who she no longer trusts — and with whom she has a child. It surprised me to see she had no bio to speak of in the program — I hope to see more of her.
There are some problems — after a promising first act, the second act seems to flounder with a series of flashbacks, and I found it very hard to empathize with the oldest brother’s situation after learning why his wife has pushed him to the curb. As hard as Hahalyak works to humanize his role, David still comes off a privileged whiny-baby. Donna deserves far better.
This is a refreshing little production, showing much promise for the brand new Currently Untitled Theatre company. I managed to catch the second-to-last show, so if you have no plans tonight, see if you can get tickets to tonight’s final performance. Or just hang tight for their next production — whatever that may be.
CTA Index Rating: 8.5 out of 10 (A simple, everyday family drama told with heart and humor.)