The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin

It could have been avoided if the sociopathic lying nature of Durnin, not unlike Madoff, had been dealt with earlier!

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Christopher Denman, Lisa Emery

Christopher Denman, Lisa Emery, Photos Joan Macus

By: Sandi Durell

How does a successful attorney put his entire family relationships and friends on the line in a get-rich Ponzi scheme without a thought of repercussions?  Tom Durnin (passionately played by David Morse) surely didn’t. When he returns after 5 years in prison thinking he can patch things up with his wife and son, who became homeless when they lost everything, the son having to drop out of Yale, and a daughter (whom we don’t see) who never wants to see him again, but understand through conversations between Tom and his son-in-law Chris (Rich SommerMad Men), as Durnin tries to worm his way back into their lives.

Written by Steven Levenson (The Language of Trees), currently playing at the Laura Pels at the Roundabout Theatre, it isn’t made immediately clear what has actually transpired when we find Durnin sleeping on a couch in his depressed son James’ house (Christopher Denham). Better that way because any early on reference to the crime he committed would have elicited a bunch of ho hums.

Tom is currently working at a local coffee café at the now defunct Borders and, having nowhere to go, appealed to James to let him stay for a month until he gets on his feet.

James is taking a writing class at a local college while at a job he hates selling medical equipment and his highlight is meeting the young and quirky Katie (Sarah Goldberg) at school, whose sing song cadence and high pitched dialogue delivery isn’t always pleasing, but she’s got the lines that deliver a few laughs in her spasmodic-type approach.  James has lots of baggage, including an ex-wife who walked out on him.

Durnin is endeavoring to wiggle his way back into the life of his now ex-wife Karen (a sturdy portrayal by Lisa Emery), who nearly bubbles over with hatred, and to see his daughter Annie and his grandkids – the latter through several meetings with Chris, and also has the chutzpah to try to get Chris to speak to people at the Firm (where Tom formerly was a partner), and where Chris is employed, hoping to wangle his way back there as well.

Sociopath’s never learn lessons as Tom tries to blackmail Chris with some mumbo jumbo about the SEC calling him daily for records he supposedly has in his possession, which just might implicate Chris.

Tom sets everyone into a tailspin, as Chris is kicked out of his house, James finds himself in an on again, off again relationship with Katie, as he tries to move ahead in life.

Tom continues to lie to everyone, including himself, ripping into his son that it was James’ fault losing his wife and blames everyone but himself.

The ending monologue, Morse so effectively delivers, is reason enough to want to see this play.

Scott Ellis directs; revolving set design is the creation of Beowulf Borritt; costumes by Jeff Mahshie.

 

Laura Pels Theater, Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theater, 111 West 46th Street, Manhattan, (212) 719-1300, roundaboutunderground.org. Through Aug. 25. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes.

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