Friday, February 10, 2023

My Review of "Pictures from Home" is up

 Posted here as well.

Pictures From Home: Sharp and Blurred

Pictures From Home is based on the story of Larry Sultan’s book of pictures, 8mm home movie stills and interviews of his parents – a photo memoir also called Pictures from Home. The play is alternately sweet as the son navigates this, and protective as his parents’ respond to the writing. His father is outwardly annoyed that Larry is at their home a lot (4 or 5 days, twice a month), and touched that he spends time with them.

The story transcends the pathos which are obvious here to bring out very real and raw emotions between generations and family. The story is brought to life by three of the best actors around doing great work. Danny Burstein plays son Larry, striving to get to the “truth” of his parents’ story. The parents are played by Nathan Lane and Zoe Wanamaker. They are confused by Larry’s search for deeper meaning in their lives, as they think of themselves as normal, happy, and comfortable in The Valley (San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles).

Danny Burstein, Zoe Wanamaker, and Nathan Lane (Julieta Cervantes)

When Larry was younger, his parents moved themselves and their 3 young boys to Los Angeles from the Brooklyn. Irving Sultan (Lane) goes along with Larry and his photography but doesn’t quite understand his motivation. Larry has his own family in San Francisco, and Irving isn’t sure at all why Larry is not spending time with his own family but would rather explore his parents’ relationship.

Irving has retired, with all the insecurities that come with that decision and a wife that is still working. His wife Jean (Zoe Wanamaker) is a relator, happy working. The retirement just gives Larry more information about his parents and allows Irving more time to be annoyed. Time Irving does take advantage of.

These three actors bring a complicated but typically American story to life. As they play progresses, the story of his parents’ life and cross-country move are examined. It is a life that Larry tries to understand, but it was of a time and motivation that is outside of his experience. He captures the complexity in a series of pictures. Pictures he takes and pictures he found. Most interestingly are the 8 mm home movie images that Larry views over and over again, and he pulls a very different story of them than his parents have. Some of the pictures are still from these movies, blown up.

Danny Burstein (Julieta Cervantes)

What happens? Larry gets closer to his parents, without ever fulling understanding them. Irving and Jean grow even closer to each other. It is bittersweet as the parents age around him. Pictures from Home does not have a lot of action, but the story has many emotions. At the heart of it is love.

During the show, pictures from the real book and home movies are discussed and presented on the back wall. Kudos to 59 Productions which did the Project Design. They do a fantastic job of bringing more depth to Pictures from Home. Experienced Director Bartlett Sher pulls these pieces and actors into harmony that is beautiful, sad, funny and touching.

Go see it if sounds even marginally interesting to you, you will enjoy it very much.

Pictures From Home
PlaywrightSharr White | DirectorBartlett Sher CastNathan Lane, Danny Burstein, 
Zoë Wanamaker

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