Can You Go Home Again?

Plays at Trinity Repertory Company and 2nd Story Theatre show that in some cases, it's not so easy.

For many, a return to a long-lost childhood home can bring back a flood of happy memories. Others can be haunted by it.

George Brant’s play, The Mourners Bench, which is playing at Trinity Repertory Company, examines how three sets of characters are linked through a tragedy. The play opens with Bobby (Mauro Hantman) and his sister, Melissa (Angela Brazil), at the childhood home where the incident took place.

Bobby has just used the proceeds from his trust fund to buy the house, and is hoping that living there again will help him recover him from the tragedy that has defined his life from when he and his sister were six and eight. He’s been returning to the home then.

But Melissa tells him he’s been stuck in limbo and needs to grow up. She’s moved on and gotten a life, marrying and having children. It’s eventually clear, though, that both are still haunted by the memories of their parents: their loving, piano-playing mother, Evelyn, and their distant and cruel father.

The tragedy affected more than the children. In another section of the play that goes back in time to right after their mother's death, her sisters, Caroline (Phyllis Kay) and Wilma (Janice Duclos) start out disagreeing over what is best for the children. But as the action progresses, another layer of betrayal emerges.

What happened to Evelyn and her children touches even those who are not related to the family, but who live in the house after Evelyn’s death. Sarah (Anne Scurria) is ill, and has long been saddened by her inability to have a child. So even though Sarah doesn’t know what happened in the house before her husband, Joe (Timothy Crowe), bought it, when she sits on the piano bench where Evelyn used to sit and spots a young boy on a bicycle, watching her, she feels like it’s her child. Joe tries to convince her otherwise, but eventually comes around.

The play is one of three world premieres called “Three by Three” that are in rotating repertory at Trinity.

Another tale of family dysfunction is also on at 2nd Story Theatre in Warren. Tracy Letts’s play, August:  Osage County, is a tale of another family with dark secrets. The play, which won the Pulitizer Prize in 2008, “unflinchingly—and uproariously—exposes the dark side of the Midwestern American family.” It runs through April 1.

For more details about “Three By Three,” go to trinityrep.com. And to find out more about August, go to 2ndstorytheatre.com.