Almost Home OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Carol Rosegg
  • NY TIMES

  • TM

  • ATW

  • THEATRE IS EASY

  • TALKIN' BWAY

Opening Night:
September 18, 2014
Closing:
October 12, 2014

Theater: Acorn Theatre / 410 West 42nd Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

It’s the turbulent sixties, and a young Marine returns home to the Bronx, shaken but hopeful for the future. Met by a mother fighting to keep the family going and a father down on his luck, Johnny finds himself caught between his parents’ dreams for his future and a police captain with plans of his own. Walter Anderson’s compelling new drama about the wars fought at home asks: whose dreams must be sacrificed to protect the ones we love?

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Almost Home

    When Johnny Came Questioning Home ‘Almost Home,’ About Vietnam, Debuts at the Acorn Theater

    Andy Webster

    September 22, 2014: When the stage lights go up at the Acorn Theater on Harry Feiner’s set for Almost Home, a dingy Bronx apartment kitchen in 1965, every prop looks period-perfect. As the play unfolds, Michael McDonald’s costumes and Quentin Chiappetta’s subtle but evocative sound design prove just as commendable. So do the performances by the impressive cast, as directed by Michael Parva. Jonny Orsini (of The Nance) plays Johnny, a Marine and former boxer, back from Vietnam, deciding his professional path, alternating between certitude and self-doubt. As Johnny’s father, Harry, a World War II veteran, Joe Lisi (an actual former Marine) blends cantankerousness with glimpses of a vulnerability stemming from combat memories. As Johnny’s mother, Grace, Karen Ziemba (a Tony winner for Contact) conveys a resilience that has survived, despite a onetime beating from Harry. Brenda Pressley brings sensible backbone to Johnny’s former teacher, Luisa, who encourages his dreams of a higher education. James McCaffrey oozes blithe corruptibility as Nick Pappas, a police detective who wants Johnny for the force. So why does Almost Home disappoint? The fault lies in the script, by Walter Anderson, a Vietnam veteran and former editor in chief of Parade, making his debut as a playwright.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Almost Home

    Vietnam veteran Walter Anderson makes his playwriting debut with an exploration of military life after the battlefield

    Hayley Levitt

    September 18, 2014: When Johnny comes marching home again Hurrah! Hurrah! We'll give him a hearty welcome then Hurrah! Hurrah! In war folklore, Johnny's story ends at his homecoming. What he and his welcome wagon do after the pomp and circumstance grinds to a halt is the more ambiguous subject of Vietnam veteran Walter Anderson's playwriting debut, Almost Home, now running at Theatre Row's Acorn Theatre. With an archive of personal experience at his disposal, Anderson implicitly promises unique insights into these enigmatic post-glory days. While he delivers an engaging one-act drama with flashes of compelling humanity, the unexplored depths of Johnny — the so-called all-American hero — are left disappointingly unmined. Jonny Orsini inserts an "h" into his name and becomes our fresh-faced Marine, Johnny Barnett. The Bronx native is just home from Vietnam with only a minor wound to his arm but more than enough mental scars. Removed from the immediate horrors of combat, the reformed hoodlum must choose one of three distinct trajectories for his post-war career. Behind door number one: a position as a Marines drill instructor; number two: a college education; and three: a career on the Bronx police force. Johnny returns home excited about the intellectual possibilities behind door number two, but is coerced into considering number three when he becomes a bargaining chip between his money-squandering father and a blackmailing cop.

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  • AMERICAN THEATER WEB REVIEW OF Almost Home

    'Almost Home' - Memories of Two Wars in New Drama

    Andy Propst

    September 19, 2014: Fine moments of acting and some fine storytelling can be found in Walter Anderson’s new play Almost Home, which opened in a Directors Company production last night at Theatre Row. The show also contains its moments of awkward and self-conscious writing and performance, which ultimately undermine a potentially potent drama. Set primarily in 1965 in Harry and Grace Barnett’s Bronx apartment (scenic design Harry Feiner recreates a dour kitchen area in the home and indicates other locations at either side of the stage), Almost Home focuses on what happens when the couple’s son Johnny returns from a tour of duty as a marine in Vietnam. It’s little surprise that he’s come back with demons, even at that early stage of the war that would stretch on for nearly a decade more.

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  • THEATRE IS EASY REVIEW OF Almost Home

    Almost Home By Walter Anderson

    Linda Buchwald

    September 19, 2014: They say write what you know. In the case of Walter Anderson, that might not have been the best advice. The publisher and editor-in-chief of Parade Magazine is a former Marine sergeant and Vietnam veteran and he may have been too close to the material—of a young soldier deciding what to do after the war—to create a cohesive play. It's clear that Anderson has stories to tell that are worth telling, but this one needs a few more edits. Usually 80 minutes with no intermission is an ideal length for a show, but in this case, Anderson sets up more that can be resolved in that amount of time. In the first scene, which takes place in 1958, Harry Barnett (Joe Lisi) is arrested for drunk driving and a cop named Pappas (James McCaffrey) decides to let him off the hook when he finds out that he is a World War II veteran. The next scene is in December, 1965 at Harry's home in the Bronx, where he and his wife Grace (Karen Ziemba) are waiting for their son Johnny (Jonny Orsini) to return home from Vietnam after an injury. Johnny announces that he was asked to be a drill instructor, but he wants to go to college in California. Pappas stops by to let him know that Harry owes a lot of money and Pappas will only bail him out if Johnny joins the police force. Meanwhile, Johnny and his father, who deals with his problems by drinking them away, have trouble letting go of their memories of war. See, there's a lot going on.

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  • TALKIN' BROADWAY REVIEW OF Almost Home

    Almost Home Theatre Review

    Matthew Murray

    September 18, 2014: Two generations of men learn the hard way that there's no coming home again after war in Almost Home, the new play by Walter Anderson that just opened at the Acorn Theatre. Even if you survive endless torrents of gunfire, torture, and emotional distress, Anderson points out time and time again, there are always more battles to fight, and they're frequently tougher than the ones that involve real blood. Unfortunately, the play could use a bit more blood of its own. The underlying idea is sound, though. Harry Barnett (Joe Lisi) served in World War II, and saw and did things that even 20 years later, he's unable to talk about or escape from any other way than through drinking. But his long-secret shame comes bubbling again to the surface when his own son, Johnny (Jonny Orsini), returns to his childhood home in the Bronx from a tour with the marines in Vietnam. Johnny, too, is not the same man who left, and is reluctant to reveal the details of why. All he'll tell dad and mom Grace (Karen Ziemba) is that his future plans include passing on a promotion to drill instructor and instead enrolling in junior college in Fullerton, California.

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