In Stephen Karam’s Southern California premiere of “Sons of the Prophet” at Cygnet Theatre, the cast transports the audience to a steel town near Pittsburgh where getting by is a problem for many, taking them on an even deeper dive into human suffering.
Although the Douaihy Family is still reeling from the death of the matriarch and mother to Joseph (Alex Hoeffler) and his younger brother, Charles (Dylan James Mulvaney), the gay sons are in for more trauma, when their father attempts to avoid a deer in the middle of the road and doesn’t survive the accident.
When it’s revealed that a high school student set a phony deer on that road, it only amplifies the grief and how to handle it. Vin (Xavier Scott) takes full credit for the misdeed, which may cost him his position on the high school football team.
Son Joseph works for Gloria (Maggie Carney), an always-distracted woman who recites newspaper stories to him instead of answering his questions.
Adding more angst to his life is his aging Uncle Bill (Navarre T. Perry), who is now living with them. He constantly harasses Joseph about his decisions.
The story is meant to explore the inevitability of loss and attempts to cope with its consequences, and the cast does a great job of bringing these elements to the forefront.
They are dually terrific in the comedic cloud that hovers over every scene.
Mulvaney is on top of his game as son Charles, comfortable in his own skin. The young actor, who is appearing all over town, also shows a sensitive side when he must sit with Gloria, so his Uncle Bill doesn’t keep yelling at her. Charles also offers a shoulder of friendship to Vin by reading him Bible passages.
Perry is more than adept at playing Uncle Bill.
Hoeffler, as Joseph, has many ups and downs, but pulls off every one of the situations that either send him to his knees in frustration or open new doors.
One is when he meets Timothy (Austin Vaccaro), and learns he’s a newsman who wants to cover the accident story on television. Joseph is deadset against it, but feels the chemistry between them.
Rob Lufty directs with an even hand, keeping every character either happy or challenged until a conclusion reveals their fate.
As a few scenes are a bit risqué, the show is recommended for mature audiences.