The unit set family drama is an oft-produced play. It’s simple to produce and tends to please the average audience. So how do you create something fresh in a new unit set family drama? Well the jury’s still out on that, but Eric Kingrea’s Dime Heroes does a pretty nice job bringing it up a step to a new level. Dime Heroes follows the power struggle of morality and kin love between Kurt, a down and out alcoholic comic book illustrator, and his son, John, who’s got himself into his own lot of trouble. Kingrea’s script, directed delicately and purposely by Kimberly Faith Hickman, is very much an ode to Sam Shepard. Paying homage to Shepard is not necessarily a bad thing. It kept the evening intriguing. Throughout the play, I kept thinking of Buried Child. Dime Heroes’s John and Marcy have very similar parallels to Buried Child’s Vince and Shelly. Kurt is very much like Tilden. The relationships between these characters dominated both stories as the secrets within unfolded. Though in Dime Heroes, the big reveal can be figured out quite early so much of the time we’re waiting for the moment when it’s revealed and the aftermath of it.
The play should Kurt’s story. Unfortunately, Steven Solomon’s take on the character was very much erratic and confusing. His sudden outbursts served no purpose and seemed to just come out of nowhere lacking purpose. There should be some empathy for Kurt, but Solomon is so far off character that we don’t care what happens to him in the end. Though his character may have been estranged from his son, there was absolutely no chemistry between father and son. Thankfully, Solomon had some better acting partners to carry his weight. Brett Dameron as John had nice moments when he was being tender with Kurt or Marcy, but like Solomon, his sudden outbursts were distracting. The shinning star of the production comes from Ashley Dilard as Marcy. She plays her character with charm and care. It really isn’t until Dilard’s appearance on stage do we start to care. One of the integral plot points of the play is the school incident where John defended the nerdy Jimmy. Jimmy comes into the play quite late in the game and has a “wrap it up” moment with Kurt. Ending the play before Jimmy’s entrance would have been a plausible option, but Kelvin Osaze Ehigie does a fine job making us want to see the scene. Hickman does a nice job as director. We see her intent from start to finish. Unfortunately, the execution from the cast was just not on par. Emily Suzanne Sumner does a great job creating an environment of a rundown apartment with the space she had to work with. Having the drawing table as the only piece of furniture to “survive” was a very strong choice.
Overall, the artistic intent of Dime Heroes is present, it’s just missing some key ingredients. If you’re a fan of new voices with a Sam Shepard flair, check out Dime Heroes.