The Long Ride Home
nytheatre.com review by Amy Lerner
July 15, 2007
Can love stand the test of time? The Long Ride Home, playing at the Fresh Fruit Festival, provides an honest examination of long-term relationships and whether the rockiest of them can last. The play, beautifully written by Robert Charles Gompers, moves its audience adeptly from laughter to tears, and truthfully portrays the journey of lifelong love.
The play follows the first and second efforts at a relationship between James and Paul, played by an older and younger set of actors. The play jumps back and forth in time, as if the story is being told through the lovers' memories. It's a beautiful and honest way to construct looking back at a lifetime of loving someone. Slowly, the play reveals the best and worst moments of the relationship between the two men.
The Long Ride Home is most appealing in its comedic moments, in which the actors are all charming and lovable. The play suffers slightly in its more dramatic scenes, which at times come across as dishonest, trite, or cliché.
The most appealing cast member is David Beck as the younger Paul, who wins the audience over with his boyish charm. He subtly navigates through each moment of the relationship, as he fights for his relationship with James to work.
The actors pull off the challenging feat of playing the same characters expertly. Dan Almekinder as the older Paul portrays charm equal to Beck's with ease. Joe Capozzi as the older James and Tim McCann as the younger James are also believable as the more serious-minded half of the relationship. Both actors convincingly portray the struggle of alcoholism and fighting to make themselves better for the person that they love.
The play could have been more expertly staged, as at times it seemed that the actors were wandering off and on to get ready for the next scene. The pace also could have been accelerated, which would have taken the audience further in their emotional investment. The framing scenes, with Bilgin Turker as disapproving friend Liz, especially suffered and practically stopped the show. In fact, the character could have been cut altogether, and would have brought more focus into the story of James and Paul. The way that they talked about her character, it was obvious that there was some disapproval of the relationship, and I didn't find it necessary to also show it. Unfortunately, the slowest and most confusing scene is the opening, which lacked in the objectives that would have gotten the audience interested in the story. Luckily, the scenes that followed were a treat.
In the end, however, those minor flaws don't matter. Gompers has written a truthful, heart-wrenching play that anyone who has experienced life or love can connect to. The Long Ride Home is the simple story of a complex relationship, and a compelling night at the theatre.