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Father & Son Night

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Father & Son Night, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. Playwright Charles Michael Moore does a terrific job in the first half of this two-act drama laying out the problems confronting a middle-aged man and his alienated, drug-using gangbanger son. By the end of the first act we know who these characters are, what's bothering them, and how they got into their current situation.

The only thing we don't know is how they're going to extricate themselves. Sadly, Moore doesn't either. In the less focused second act he tries several solutions, including an extended dream sequence in which the son confronts a slain gangbanger, an over-the-top scene in which the son breaks down and weeps in his father's arms for his sins, and a melodramatic, even cartoonish twist ending that could have been lifted from Scooby-Doo: a seemingly shy character turns out to be a lecherous, black-hearted killer. None of these moments has any of the integrity or power evident in the play's first half.

Ron O.J. Parson's simple, intelligent direction and topflight performances from Willie B. Goodson and Demetrius Thornton as the father and son guarantee that the drama never flags, however, even during the play's more improbable moments.

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