Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"The Subject Was Roses" at Sol Theater


Dysfunctional Families Never Go Out of Date

By Skip Sheffield

Dysfunctional families are always in style. You can go all the way back to the Old Testament to find plenty of family members doing terrible things to one another, either accidentally or on purpose.
The family drama “The Subject Was Roses” won the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award in 1964 and was adapted as a film by its playwright, Frank D. Gilroy, in 1968.
Evening Star Productions is presenting a revival through Sept. 28 at the Sol Theater, 3333 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
Though it was first produced in 1964, “The Subject Was Roses” is set just after World War II in Brooklyn, 1946. The war figures prominently in the Irish-American Cleary family. Father John (Alan Gerstel) never served in the armed forces as he was the sole support of his family as a young man.
Son Timmy (Evan Gerstel) is just coming home after serving in combat. His mother Nettie (Elli Murray) is beside herself with happiness that her beloved son is returning home.
It should be a happy occasion, but as so happens in family dynamics there are conflicts, resentments and unresolved problems just waiting to surface. The playwright shines a light on these problems in the course of the play, which is presented efficiently by director Jeffrey Bruce in less than two hours, intermission included.
Evening Star Productions is truly a shoestring, non-profit, non-professional theater company aimed mainly at young adult actors. Alan Gerstel and Elli Murray are both professionals. Evan Gerstel fits the definition of young professional, and he does quite well with his role, despite the fact neither he nor his dad Alan Gerstel seems the least bit Irish.
Elli Murray has the meatiest role as the beleaguered mother, and she goes for it. The show is not without laughs and the drama is not overly depressing. In all it’s a good showing for a company using borrowed set pieces, a borrowed tiny children’s stage, good lighting by Bruno Vida and a sound engineer (Austin Stein) who is all of 12-years-old.
Tickets are just $15 and shows are 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call 561-447-8829 or go to

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