Inherit the Whole
At a couple of points in Formby’s new 1984-set dysfunctional-family drama, she has one of her characters halt the proceedings to call out his or her relatives for their incessant yapping. “Too much yak-yak-yak!” yaps Paul (Martin), the oldest of Formby’s trio of yappy brothers and the in-tow wives of two. Of course, Paul is probably the yakkiest of the five, having set the volatility meter to 11 at the play’s opening, when he kicks in the door of his childhood home.
That full-bore intro is Formby’s first mistake. Her play invites comparisons to early Sam Shepard, but the playwright (a founding member of this new company) sets her levels too high from the start; director Boat’s actors start shouty and get stuck there.
The siblings are fighting over the imagined chest of gold their newly deceased, abusive asshole father may or may not have buried under the house. Doug (Garza), the Vietnam-vet middle brother currently occupying the house in which Dad recently blew his brains out, is reputedly troubled, but for much of the play Garza seems the most reasonable of the fivesome, making his late-breaking PTSD episode feel unearned. It’s in the few-and-far-between quiet moments that the cast gets to shine, most notably Tode in a mesmerizing monologue about mothering a permanently hospitalized, developmentally disabled child. But Formby, while displaying a gift for poetic plotting, too often gives in to the temptation to overwrite her characters’ overwrought speechifying.