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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Play at Theatrical Outfit
‘The Young Man From Atlanta’

2011 February 7

Tom Key and Marianne Hammock

Finally, Atlanta debut’s the dramatic play “The Young Man From Atlanta,” for which Horton Foote won a Pulitzer in 1995.

Reminiscent of Willy Loughman, salesman Will Kidder and his family have a bundle of troubles. He says he is “the best,” but trouble is brewing for this has-been salesman. It’s the 1950s and at age 64, Will is having a house built for him and his wife, Lily Dale, that is way to big for just the two of them. He has put a down payment on a new car for his wife, and he’s just about to loose his job to the man he hired nearly 20 years his junior.

Will can only fool himself so much. He may surmise why his 37-year-old son who drowned would have kept walking far into the ocean when he didn’t know how to swim, but Lily Dale won’t even consider why or who her son really was.

Reminiscent of “Death of a Salesman,” “All My Sons,” and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” “The Young Man From Atlanta” is just as dramatic and haunting.  Like O’Neill’s Mary Tyrone, Lily Dale is lost in life without her husband and lives a life of dreams rather than looking at the truth.

While the similarities between the aforementioned works are clear, the script holds its own and is one of the best dramas I’ve seen in Atlanta.

Theatrical Outfit puts on a good production of a great play that is worth seeing. Tom Key and Marianne Hammock are notable and believable as Will and Lily Dale.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of downers. Tim Batten, who plays Carson, tends to overact and indicate. For example, when he enters after just having breakfast, he picks at his teeth as if pulling out a stuck piece of meat. Frank Roberts, who plays Lily Dale’s step-father, seems miscast. He looks to be the same age as Lily and Will, and he does nothing to make us believe he is any older. Whereas Donna Biscoe, who plays Etta, an elderly former maid of the Kidder’s, looks to be no more than 40. Yet, she hunches over, shakes when she walks and quivers her voice to make her seem as if she is nearing 90.

“The Young Man From Atlanta”at Theatrical Outfit runs through Feb. 20.

Jessica Phelps West directs a cast that includes  Andrew Benator (Tom), Robin Bloodworth (Ted), and Tonia Jackson (Clara).

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