“Father, Son & Holy Coach” at The Odyssey

I initially reviewed John Posey’s one man show, Father, Son & Holy Coach when it played at the Whitefire Theatre last year.

I thought it would be interesting to have a second opportunity to consider the show again and see if time might have shifted my feelings towards it, and to discover if the writer and performer had expanded or revised it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the last staging; as a matter of fact it was one of the best shows I saw in 2015.

The story is both simple and complex, and is a love story in some ways, but the love story of a father, a son and football.

Posey’s captivating tale is that of son and father and the all consuming obsession with high school football that grips the entire population of his home town.

It is like a religion, and for his father the holy texts are the writings of Knut Rockne, which are dotted throughout Posey’s piece.

Posey has filled his story with distinctly chiseled characters with none being more finely etched than that of the portrait he presents of his father.

As described and depicted by Posey, his father is both endearing and infuriating. A man who quizzes his son on the 27 classifications for farts, and injects into the bedtime stories he tells him, the morality of the gridiron, such as explaining the real reason Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall was because he was weak. He never would have passed muster with Knut Rockne.

Perhaps the most telling statement Posey makes in regards to his father is the one also tinged with the faint hue of sadness. “Pop didn’t believe in nets.”

“Nets” are easy to disdain, especially if one is oblivious to the fact they are falling.

Posey’s tale has no villains to speak of. There are no rapes or murders, no incest or other criminal conduct. The only sin present on his stage is one most of us have found ourselves either victims or perpetrators of.

Hillel said it is a sin to step on a man’s face, but it is also a sin to let a man step on yours.

The moral wrong in Father, Son Holy Coach can perhaps be expressed along the same lines; it is a sin to smother another in your dreams, but it is also a sin to allow yourself to be so smothered.

This is a transgression often found between fathers and sons.

The choice in Posey’s sweetly crafted tale is that of a son becoming the “man” his father wants him to be, or becoming his own man.

There are no histrionics on stage here; Just a sad and touching story of a son who must either disappoint his father or fail himself.

John Posey-Father, Son-Holy Coach (Photos by Ed Krieger)

John Posey in “Father, Son & Holy Coach” (Photos by Ed Krieger)

Posey portrays some half dozen characters over the course of the evening, and in his obvious love of these individuals they are made lovable to us.

His ease and confidence on stage engages the audience to a staggering degree, and lures us into surrendering to his storytelling.

There were some differences in this production from the first one I saw, but these were mainly exterior changes. The show at the Odyssey opens with the classic George Carlin routine on the differences between football and baseball. There are some projections in use, and the stage setting is more elaborate, more detailed.

Whether these improved the show I can’t really say, but at least they didn’t impede it, so that’s good enough for me.

On stage, both as actor and playwright, Posey’s intimacy with the characters is such that he is able to communicate them as if by shorthand – a slight glance sideward, the barest flicker of a smile – expressing them in an economy of technique that is both exquisite and eloquent.

Posey’s show is this time as it was the last, a smart, superbly crafted and very entertaining work that is sure to appeal to anyone who was ever a son, ever a father, or once placed great importance in throwing a conical ball a very great distance.

As I said at the start of this brief review, Father, Son & Holy Coach was one of the best shows I saw in 2015.

Who knows, it could be one of the best shows I see in 2016.

♦  ♦  ♦

Father, Son & Holy Coach

• Written and performed by John Posey
• Directed by Terri Hanauer

Feb. 13 – March 20:

• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 12 (preview), 19, 26; March 4, 11, 18
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 13 (opening), 20, 27; March 5, 12, 19
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: Feb. 14, 21, 28; March 6, 13, 20

Odyssey Theatre
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025

For Tickets and Information:
(323) 960-7724 or www.holycoach.net

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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