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THE FOLKS AT HOME Alleyway Theatre
By
Feb 16, 2024, 23:52
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Through March 2
THE FOLKS AT HOME Alleyway Theatre

“The Folks at Home” is an “Everyman” show with every character (almost) challenged financially and residentially.
It’s a “salt and pepper” pairing of two families linked by two sons, the recently married gay couple of Roger Harrison (P.K. Fortson) and Brandon Littlefield Harrison (Ryan Adam Norton).
The two bought a seemingly haunted South Baltimore row house because Brandon always dreamed of having a backyard.
Now, Roger is out of work and without his income, they can’t meet the mortgage and are threatened with eviction.
The controlling and over-organized Brandon is getting panicky and Roger doesn’t seem worried, although he is.
Roger’s parents, Pamela (Shanntina Moore) and Vernon (Roderick Garr) are in the same situation, apparently because they re-financed the home they had long owned.
Vernon doesn’t seem to be working, although he was and Pamela has some sort of management job.
Without two incomes, they lose their home and move in with Roger and Brandon, knowing it might be somewhat temporary because of the residents’ situation.
Then, Brandon’s Mom Maureen (Josie DiVincenzo) arrives and also needs a home.
She seems a little lost, relying on a nearby Walmart (by bus) and some friends there.
The mental attitudes are depressed and getting worse as the problems of the two families don’t seem to improve.
Brandon’s sister Brittany (Julianna Tracey) is giving her brother and her mother unhelpful advice, suggesting some new jobs might help.
The residents are fully aware of that.
Playwright R. Eric Thomas pays a lot of attention to TV sitcoms because they are often playing on the living room screen and conversations about shows like “The Jeffersons.”
Pamela and Maureen have disputes about what is on the screen, sometimes angrily.
The working-class Maureen appears to resent the Black Jeffersons and their good life because they have a profitable dry-cleaning business and she thinks it’s not fair.
Pamela is angry because she has gone to the right schools and worked hard all her life and it’s all gone wrong, leaving them in this mess.
In the end, things ease up and there may be a light at the end of the tunnel, although that may be the ghost who really does live in what was her home.
The best way to describe the home is to look back at a “shotgun” house or a “railway flat.”
Basically, that means it’s long and thin and usually wedged in from each side, leaving limited natural light and only front and rear entrances.
The Alleyway stage is different and Tania Barrenechea’s set design is a masterpiece at making it all work.
That does mean the cast looks out into the audience when watching TV and that screen doesn’t exist.
Director Daniel F. Lendzian does a pretty good job, working with a cast which isn’t always audible.
There are some particularly strong performances, Garr, Moore, DiVincenzo and Norton.
“The Folks at Home” isn’t a look at poverty and homelessness, instead it’s a look at people who did all the right things and still crashed and burned.
It’s worth seeing.

A.W.

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