Saturday, February 7, 2015

San Diego's Cygnet Theater hits home run with "Son of the Prophet"


PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER and courtesy Cygnet Theatre

>>>BUY LILIAN'S LAST DANCE E-BOOK, click here<<<
Actors Alex Hoeffler and Austin Vaccaro in a scene from
Cygnet Theatre's thought provoking "Sons of the Prophet."

Hoeffler, left, and Mulvaney, right, with Navarre T. Perry.
BILLED AS "a boisterous comedy about grief, loss and the mysteries of human suffering," Cygnet Theatre's "Sons of the Prophet" is indeed funny.
As the promotion suggests, it emphasizes the meaning of those classic comic-tragic faces. For "Sons of the Prophet" is also poignant and sad.  The seeming contradiction of "a funny tragedy" is not new in theater, literature or life. We often laugh rather than cry -- it's much more cathartic. In “Sons of the Prophet,” playwright Stephen Karam pulls off the comic-tragic paradox with wit, skill and sophistication.  He puts an original spin on the human parables of suffering, loneliness and loss, imbuing his characters with dignity and those twin, time-honored saving graces: self-deprecation and a sense of humor. The plot involves a Lebanese family in an old Pennsylvania steel town, a bizarre accident with a dear decoy on the highway, and the family's meeting of the young man behind the prank that may have caused the father's fatal heart attack.
Cygnet's home in Old Town is secure with a fine
repertoire and excellent acting and direction.

 WHAT BRINGS Karam's fine writing to life is wonderful, lively acting. Cygnet's cast is perfect to a person. A pair of gay brothers -- one much more "out" than the other -- an ailing uncle, overbearing publisher and an eager news reporter make up the leads in the cast, with several smaller ensemble parts well interpreted.
Cygnet's new associate artistic director Rob Lufty, directs the production with empathy and style.
The brothers are beautifully portrayed by Dylan James Mulvaney as Charles, and Alex Hoeffler as Joseph.
Navarre T. Perry gives a bravura performance as the salty Uncle Bill, who comes to live with the boys after their father dies and struggles to keep his dignity and political correctness. Maggie Carney is effective as the talkative, troubled Gloria, who wants to exploit the family't tragedy to resurrect her failing publishing house. Austin Vaccaro's reporter is believable and vulnerable.
NO WEAK links, but lots of laughs as the tragedies of the family roll like an undercurrent, giving way ultimately to hope and resurrection.
You still have time to see "Sons of the Prophet," recommended for the serious play goer. Go to  or call (619) 704-2703‎. A couple thought provoking hours of fine theater await.

Alice B. Toklas, left, and Gertrude Stein, at home
in their Paris home.  The writers of "Lillian's
Last Dance" spent several research weeks in Paris.
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  1. We saw the play last night. What a moving, thoroughly engaging and well acted production.
    We always contribute to Cygnet to keep the muse alive. Thanks for reminding people of this little jewel of a theater tucked away behind the mariachis and magic of Old Town.

  2. William B of San DiegoFebruary 11, 2015 at 1:18 PM

    Agree: This is a wonderfully original play. Terrific acting. Thought provoking. Made me laugh and cry. That's good theater.