(Ben Brantley's review appeared in The New York Times, November 20.)
Heart of a Small Town, Vast in Its Loneliness
Two fresh-faced fishermen, wearing solemn expressions and suspenders, sit on a riverbank, looking as if they were waiting for Norman Rockwellto show up with his easel. “You’re on your own now,” one of them says
“I’m on my own,” the other answers, staring straight ahead. He is 12, and his father has just died. He is not kidding. He is also absolutely right.
This sun-clouding moment of perception, in which an all-American idyll takes on a mortal chill, occurs in the opening chapter of what promises to be the great adventure of this theater season: the New York premiere of “The Orphans’ Home Cycle,” Horton Foote’s heart-piercing, nine-play family album about growing up lonely in Texas in the early 20th century. The boy who sees his future with so little mercy one afternoon in 1902 is named Horace Robedaux. And though he is hardly what you would call a happy lad, he is unusually honest, and I think you’re going to want to spend as much time in his company as you can.
That means sitting for roughly nine hours at the Peter Norton Space of the Signature Theater Company, where the three three-play installments of the cycle will be playing during the next four months. But on the basis of the first part, which opened on Thursday night under the umbrella title “The Story of a Childhood,” nine hours may not feel like enough.
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