“Unbroken Circle” is an emotional roller coaster ride

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Bucks County Playhouse

Eve Plumb in "Unbroken_Circle."show review:

September 19 was gay night out at “Unbroken Circle” at the St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 West 46th Street, New York City. To my eyes, it did not look especially “gay,” but, then, what do I know? What was apparent was an interesting play performed by truly committed actors. If “Long Day’s Journey into Night” collided with Tennessee Williams in Galveston, Texas, it might look and sound something like “Unbroken Circle.”

The Carter Family and Mother Maybelle Carter’s performance of “Can the Circle Be Unbroken” played as the audience entered, setting the theme of the play. The plot of the play has June traveling from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to attend Travis’s – her brother- in-law’s – funeral in Galveston, Texas, in June 1970. The repast, the opening scene of the play, is being held in her sister Ruby’s home. Ruby is Travis’s widow. Ruby and Travis’s children, Edna and Bobby, Bobby’s wife Cheryl, and their two children, Cathy and Patti complete the cast.

The family in "Unbroken Circle"

The family in “Unbroken Circle”

Playwright James Wesley acted the role of Bobby, son to Ruby, beautifully played by Suzanne Hay, who has appeared with Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, and Mary Tyler Moore on Broadway, as well as on “Guiding Light,” and “As the World Turns” TV soaps. Eve Plumb, best known for her role as “Jan” on the TV show, “The Brady Bunch,” is June, Ruby’s sister, the sharp- tongued nemesis of every one of her relatives, all the while talking about what a good Christian she is. Eve Plumb gives a spell- binding performance as June. Lori Hammel, Jennifer Simard, Stacey Bone- Gleason, and Juli Wesley (who also happens to be the playwright’s daughter) were outstanding in their roles.

James Wesley not only writes about his family experiences, but walks the walk and talks the talk. He is not only a playwright and actor, but also the husband of the play’s producer, Seth Rudetsky. Continuing the theme, Wesley also cast his daughter, Juli, as Patti, his character’s daughter. In his “Playwright Note” included in the program, he writes that growing up in Texas, he had heard all the family stories by age 10, except for one. He writes that at age 15, he learned that his great- grandmother had been sexually abused by her stepfather. Wesley writes that her haunting face in a photo from 1912 when she was age 12 was the spark which started him writing his story about cycles of abuse and how they can be broken.

Not since Aeschylus’ “The Libation Bearers” have two siblings had more problems than Bobby and his sister, Edna. Bobby and Edna, however, do not meet to avenge their father, Travis, as in the play by Aeschylus, but instead travel a harrowing journey of sordid memories and newly- found discoveries of family mendacity between the funeral and the following day. The two embark on their very own “Errand into the Maze,” (quoting the work by Martha Graham) as they search for the truth and closure they so painfully do not enjoy. With a chorus of frightening, Southern Gothic characters, “Unbroken Circle” is an emotional roller coaster ride.

“Unbroken Circle” continues its run at the St. Luke’s Theatre. For more information, visit: http://www.unbrokencircletheplay.com/

Eve Plumb in "Unbroken_Circle."show review:

September 19 was gay night out at “Unbroken Circle” at the St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 West 46th Street, New York City. To my eyes, it did not look especially “gay,” but, then, what do I know? What was apparent was an interesting play performed by truly committed actors. If “Long Day’s Journey into Night” collided with Tennessee Williams in Galveston, Texas, it might look and sound something like “Unbroken Circle.”