Their Staten Island house ravaged by Hurricane Sandy is not the only thing that needs extensive repair when 60-something-year-olds Marty and Mary Murphy return to what had always been their home.
In Sharyn Rothstein’s ‘By the Water,’ a Chicago premiere now at Northlight Theatre, attempts by the stubborn Marty to live there again and convince his neighbors to return, antagonize his friends who want to accept a bailout and move where safe from a repeat disaster.
But that is minor compared to how those efforts finally reveal Marty’s serious past mistakes, the feelings of his long-suffering Mary, and how and why his adult sons feel the way they do towards each other and their dad.
Well directed by Cody Estle, audiences will find there is a lot more going on then seen in the first 20 minutes of a play that only lasts an hour and 45 minutes.
Marty, brilliantly played by Francis Guinan, starts out as a sympathetic character who wants to rebuild the house his father gave him.
But sympathies start to erode as he shows little love and appreciation for his successful eldest son Sal, nicely interpreted by Jordan Brown, and instead empathizes with his recently released from prison younger son, Brian, charmingly played by Joel Reitsma.
His character draws even less sympathy as he continues to dominate Mary, exceptionally portrayed by Penny Slushier.
Amanda Drinkall is very believable as recently divorced Emily Mancini, Brian’s love interest. Her parents, the neighboring couple Andrea and Philip Carter, are well played by Janet Ulrich Brooks and Patrick Clear.
Jeffrey D. Kmiec’s impressive scenic design perfectly accomplishes the impression of a hurricane disaster while still offering a skeletal place to stay and greet family and neighbors.
‘By the Water’ by Sharyn Rothstein is at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL, now through April 23, 2017. For tickets and other information visit Northlight and call (847) 673-6300.