Originally reviewed for GaySocialites.com.
Horton Foote’s The Orphan’s Home Cycle follows a modest, honest Texan soul, Horace Robedaux (played with quiet dignity by the handsome Bill Heck), from childhood through adulthood, over the course of nine one-acts spread out over three evenings. Part Two takes place just under 100 years ago, and focuses on Horace’s married life.
The late Foote focused on genuinely humane individuals trying to make worthwhile lives in the face of attacks from the many human monsters that small-town Texas begets. The monsters in this part are less obvious than in the more desolate Part One, but our hero Horace certainly isn’t getting any kind of free ride. No onstage deaths from alcoholism this time, but we hear of a few, and see a few booze addled creatures come and go.
In The Widow Claire, Horace loves the titular lady, but is stymied at every turn — even beaten up at one point —by Val, a violent, whiskey-guzzling moron who is also “courting” Claire. Claire finally agrees to marry a third, older man, leaving Horace in the lurch.
Luckily, he falls even more deeply in love with one Elizabeth Vaughn in Courtship but comes up against her overprotective father (played with great subtlety by James DeMarse). In Valentine’s Day the couple, who had to elope, reconcile with Elizabeth’s father, while Horace finally has enough security to really feel the loss of his father, and abandonment by his mother. The strongest of the three plays, Valentine’s Day brings into sharper focus the themes of the cycle as a whole.
The Orphan’s Home Cycle is emerging as one of the more interesting events of the season — I’ve enjoyed the first two, and am very curious to see how the whole thing comes to a close in Part Three.
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