ALL THE ROADS HOME presented Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park through April 23. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.
ALL THE ROADS HOME follows the stories of mother, daughter and granddaughter in three thirty-minute pieces to form one over-arching story.
In the first third of the play, we meet Madeleine, a 17 year-old small-town Massachusetts girl who runs away to New York City with dreams of becoming a dancer. But “runs away” is actually an open-ended visit that drops her into the middle of her sister’s strained marriage. And “dreams of being a dancer” is more of a pipe dream since Madeleine has never taken a dance lesson in her life. It only takes one mention of her attraction to her brother-in-law to know how this part of the story is going to end.
The play then jumps two decades in the second arc, where Madeleine’s daughter (who renames herself Max) is obsessed with both being a cowboy and Dolly Parton (apparently because she is a lesbian in the 1970s, I guess). It all just seems random and unmotivated. Several earnest talks with her mother and multiple visits from “Dolly” does little to advance the story or offer much insight into Max’s character. A friendship with transfer student, Phoenix, offers Max an escape to a more open-minded San Francisco, which she decides not to pursue.
Finally, three more decades later, we have Madeleine’s granddaughter Nix. She has realistically pursued her dream of becoming a performer in that she can actually play a guitar and sing. She travels the country from one city to the next, performing anywhere that will have her. A chance encounter with a three-person act of two sisters and a brother offers Nix a chance at a “family” she didn’t know she wanted, but this leaves her questioning the life she has chosen.
The official description of the shows talks about “three generations of women and the legacies they inherit”. Personally I’m pressed to find any legacy between the characters aside from blood. Perhaps, if the topic of Max’s parentage had been pursued in some form, it could have provided a through line that carried into Nix’s story. I also found the lack of connection between the three generations strange.
The small ensemble shows good range in multiple roles, but as written I found the characters to be mostly superficial. Director Lee Sunday Evans staged the play heavily forward, creating many less-than-ideal sight lines for the audience to the left and right of the stage.
Overall, I found the script to be clichéd and lacking in characterization and substance.
My rating: 3.75 out of 5.
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