East of Jordan, ETA Creative Arts Foundation.

Sam Knight has allowed his rivalry with the memory of his wife’s sainted first husband to become an obsession, spurring him to borrow money from the local crime boss to finance a house in the suburbs for his family. But tensions escalate in this parable of human folly, aggravated by Sam’s disgruntled war-veteran brother and restless teenage son.

The action in Evan K. Walker’s East of Jordan is set circa 1950, and the script seems to have been written then as well. Many of the narrative details have long since become cliches, but the message emphasized by director Vantile Whitfield–that idealizing people leads to unhappy awakenings–is still timely and universal. The energy level of ETA’s production can’t help but falter given the pace of the text–the story doesn’t begin to move until the second act–but the cast deliver competent performances, led by Freeman Coffey as the good-hearted but naive Sam and Al Boswell as the gleefully larger-than-life Shango, who acts as our guide in this tragedy.