Sunday, May 17, 2009

DREAM/HOME


‘DREAM/HOME,’ must see engaging, thought-provoking powerhouse at Dobama

Hook up the focused directing of Sonya Robbins, a compelling script by Sarah Morton, add a high quality cast, place them in Todd Krispinsky’s creative set and the result is one heck of a great evening of theatre. An evening that not only holds your attention, but makes real life and theatre one and the same!

Cleveland is in the midst of a major crisis. In the past decade the city has lost about one-third of its population. Many homes are boarded up and abandoned. The same fate is attacking many of the rim suburbs and the filthy hands of predatory lenders, aided by a weak economy, are making the march of recession/depression spread further east, south and west. Over 60,000 foreclosures have taken place. The county has an estimated 35,000 vacant homes. Beautiful and family friendly streets have given way to drug houses, sites for the stealing of aluminum siding and copper pipes for profit, and danger and fear.

A school teacher, wanting the security of home ownership and safety for her family, goes to a bank to get a loan. Even though educated, she is na├»ve about finance matters and is talked into a predatory ARM loan by a sleazy agent only interested in his personal financial gain. Not only does this spell disaster for her, but for many others and the community as a whole. Such is the story which unravels in Sarah Morton’s meticulously written ‘DREAM/HOME.’

Director Robbins wrings every emotion out of the script. Under her watchful eye, we meet the teacher, her daughter, a banker, the loan officer, two neighbors, a realtor, and the wife of a policeman. All are people who are either catalysts or victims of the problem.

The production is added to by a talk back following many of the stagings. The night I attended, Jim Rokakis, Cuyahoga County Treasurer, shared his observations of how the entire collapse of the housing market in the county happened and pointed fingers at who helped in the march down hill. He focused on The Plain Dealer for not alerting the community to the problem, abd the role of the Taft administration and his Attorney General in allowing and encouraging bad legislative actions. He pointed a finger at National City Bank as a major culprit in inner city green lining. He also held out hope, the hope of the success of the Land Bank, which he helped persuaded the Ohio Legislature to authorize. It will lead to the destruction of many empty and abandoned houses, leaving them as green spaces or open to new types of use, thus eliminating settings for drug houses and making neighboring homes worthless. There is hope that the Obama administration’s plan to help those who were caught in the march of greed and false dreams, might be able to see some sunlight.

Morton has pulled no stops. She engages us in a series of solo pieces, which she has woven together to give a multi-dimensional view of what happened and is still going on. Wow!

The cast, George Roth, Fabio Polanco, Alexis Floyd, Anne McEvoy, Tom White, Rodney Freeman, Kristi Little, Cathy Albers and Lisa Langford are all top notch. There is not a weak link in the acting chain. Wow!

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: ‘DREAM/HOME’ is MUST SEE production for everyone who wants to understand, to realize the horrible outcomes of financial and personal greed that has attacked our city, our county, our country and our lives. Wow!