The sensitive, expressive, and pensive son. The emotionally cool, impatient, and badgering father. Together, this family dynamic seen throughout history is so familiar that playwright Daphne Malfitano even titles her new play in Latin. Paternus, now receiving its world premiere at Rogue Machine, begins with pater Steve and his scion Stephen trapped in their RV...it is clear within three short scenes that Malfitano has decided to peel away the layers of this seemingly unworkable relationship in reverse chronology. ...Given this deconstructed playwriting and short, cinematic scenes, it is both surprising and heartening that this tiny one-act drama manages to have potency and pathos. ”...In many ways, this is typical Fringe Festival fare...yet I truly believe Malfitano is up to something bigger here.
Paternus begins at the grisly end of a sad story: Steve (Darrell Larson) and his teenage son, Stephen (Timothy Walker), huddle in their snowbound RV, starving. ”...Reverse chronology is a gimmick that risks cheating both performers and audience of the buildup to heightened emotion...but the play’s revelation - what kind of dad Steve was before this crisis - did surprise me and impart resonance in retrospect to the opening.”Unlike many evolving playwrights, Malfitano resists the lure of exposition: she has drawn her characters with radical thrift.
Malfitano’s play features an intriguing situation and a familial relationship that makes the work more compelling still.
Paternus’ is intense and thought provoking. A well performed two hander that is certainly worth a look.