The story of four men in their 30′s whose watered-down religious traditions leave them lost and confused when they’re faced with the death of the one man who could have provided the guidance they desperately need – but didn’t. The play follows Mitchell, his older brother Peter, and their childhood friends David and Aaron through the seven days of shivah, the traditional Jewish period of mourning, as they grieve for the loss of Mitchell and Peter’s father in a dirty, confining basement. Mitchell, an assistant librarian and aspiring photographer living a life stunted by his inability to communicate, struggles to unlock the petrifying rage he has felt toward his neglectful and abusive parent. His brother Peter refutes the notion that their father was more than “occasionally loud” while also struggling to come to terms with his own suppressed anger and feelings of loss. Complicating the situation is return of their estranged childhood friend David, who has just published a novel based loosely on the childhood adventures of the four blood brothers: a book that reveals a secret Peter and Aaron have kept their entire lives… and that may have killed Mitchell and Peter’s father.
Produced at Gettysburg College (PA, 2005); workshopped and read at the Theater of the First Amendment (VA, 2004); read at the National Theatre (DC, 2004); read at the Baltimore Playwrights Festival (MD, 2002). Larry Neal Award — Best Play, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, 2002.
Of virtually everything I’ve ever written — decades of work in a variety of genres, from fiction and non-fiction to poetry and drama — this play is undoubtedly the most heart-felt. I wrote it, quite simply, for the four young men (myself included) who lived through a very different version of the back story that informs it.
Those were (and still are) some of the most important friendships in my life. We shared a childhood together. My stories are their stories, and they needed to be told not just for me, but for all of us.. I wrote what I wrote as much for them as for myself.
I like to think of this story as a mechanism designed to propel the main character, Mitchell, out of the basement of his own heart and up into the world of social connections and interactions with others: to help him, as the psychologists and criminologists say, rejoin society.
Inasmuch as I think Mitchell represents a kind of basement-dwelling perpetual adolescence I have observed in many young men too old to still be stuck that way, however, this play also tries to generalize from my own lived experience to a larger idea about how one escapes from one’s birth home — and from the sins we inherit from our parents, which nonetheless haunt us our whole lives long.