Four old friends (long estranged) sit shivah together—in a basement—for an entire week, doing their best to mourn the death of the one man who might have shown them a very different way to behave… but failed to do so.
Mitchell, an assistant librarian and aspiring photographer, struggles to unlock the petrifying rage he has felt toward his now-dead father. Peter, his brother, insists that their father was never more than “occasionally loud,” while Aaron, his best friend, just wants to clean out the godforsaken basement they’re all stuck in and move on.
Complicating the situation is return of their long-departed 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.
Productions: Gettysburg College (PA, 2005). Workshop and reading: Theater of the First Amendment (VA, 2004). Readings: National Theatre (DC, 2004); Baltimore Playwrights Festival (MD, 2002). Recognition: Larry Neal Award for Best Play (DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, 2002).
About the Play
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 life 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.
We inherit sins from our parents. How can we make sure they don’t haunt us our whole lives long?