These Flowers are for my Mother, Steep Theatre Company, at Strawdog Theatre Company. Michael McGuire’s coming-of-age story, being given its premiere, features lush language, but the characters are thin and the three-hour plot is rambling. Twelve-year-old Alan is a gifted mama’s boy whose parents are divorcing. His mother drinks, his father is boring, and Alan might be sent to boarding school. Helping the court decide who gets custody is the wacky Dr. Wright (Jim Poole), a psychiatrist who resembles a nonsensical Kurt Vonnegut character as played by a manic Robin Williams. Somehow both of Alan’s parents wind up in Wright’s for-profit sanatorium. A heavily foreshadowed crisis doesn’t pack the emotional punch the story requires.
As played by Zach Gray, the young Alan is an independent smart aleck, more like a sitcom creation than an actual child. But then the script places too much weight on his shoulders. The addition of an adult Alan (John Kahara) is probably supposed to inspire reflection but merely slows the pacing. Susie Griffith is initially believable as Alan’s mother, and Peter Moore is at first solid as his father, but both flail when the plot unravels at the end. The only redeeming feature of the show is John Wilson’s graceful set–tall, sheer white triangles set before a cloud-filled blue sky. Unfortunately it creates expectations that are never met.