Theatre Review: SNAP’s ‘Harbor’ holds interest even if pacing is a bit uneven

Bob Fischbach / The Omaha World Herald

They’re living the gay dream, until a couple of visitors wake them.

In SNAP Productions’ comedy “Harbor,” which opened last weekend, architect Ted (Joshua Mullady) and writer Kevin (Noah Diaz) live in oh-so-tasteful and expensive Sag Harbor on the east end of Long Island.

Their 10-year relationship works because Kevin, an unpublished writer known more for missed deadlines than brilliant prose, says he wants whatever Ted wants.

But then Kevin’s pothead sister, Donna (Kaitlyn McClincy), and her 15-year-old daughter, Lottie (talented Ryleigh Welsh), drop in for an unexpected visit. Lottie is more grown up and responsible than her mother, and she has better taste. Donna, who sings when she can find a gig, is as good at pushing Ted’s buttons as she is at calling Kevin on his self-delusion.

The acting in director Michal Simpson’s cast of four is uneven. The sitcom-like adult comedy elements, playing off stereotypes, work best. The dramatic peaks don’t always feel as genuine as the story itself, which plays out to a quite believable ending.

Playwright Chad Beguelin’s unfolding story holds your interest through this two-hour journey, despite uneven pacing. Beguelin, a four-time Tony nominee for the musicals “Aladdin” and “The Wedding Singer,” is more pat with his familiar characters than he is with the story, which visits some dark corners of domestic life.

Kevin, it seems, is not telling the truth when he agrees with Ted’s rant about the downside of having children, or even of having to cope with the baby-on-board crowd. It’s hard to be honest when you’re living so well off somebody else’s dime.

Donna knows Kevin has wanted to be a parent since they were kids in a poor, dysfunctional family. But life didn’t bestow on her the same coping skills it gave Kevin and her own daughter.

Lottie’s a smart, sensitive kid who chastises her mom with each new “so uncool” gay joke Donna blurts. So, when Donna announces she’s pregnant, Lottie has had enough of everything — the stream of mom’s jerk boyfriends, the constant moving, the lack of money that has them sleeping in their van and bathing in public restrooms.

The play gets interesting in less guarded moments when characters talk one-on-one. Ted has some advice for Lottie. Liquor and a joint help Donna manipulate Kevin. You may think you know what’s coming. You might end up as surprised as I was.

While SNAP doesn’t have the budget for Sag Harbor’s mode of clothing and home furnishings, costumer Matthew Lott and scenic designer Ronnie Wells make things work fine on a limited budget.

The four characters’ separate searches for safe harbor in their lives is both intriguing and entertaining. “Harbor” gently nudges its audience to look inward about life’s push-pull between hanging on to what you’ve got and reaching out for something more.

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