‘Tom Durnin’ is unavoidably complex

Tom Durnin

Like father, like son? That’s a viable take-away from “The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin” at the Laura Pels Theatre, at least at first blush. After all, both title character Tom (David Morse) and son James (Christopher Denham) churn out lies like modern-day Don Drapers.

But Tom’s falsehoods are calculated for personal gain. Five years ago, he artificially propped up a worthless company he represented by getting friends and family to invest in it, causing them to lose everything. Now, fresh out of jail, he blackmails his son-in-law (Rich Sommer) with seeming fabrications to gain information and influence. Son James’s mendacity is more benign. He just wants to avoid embarrassment and confrontation, so he’s less than candid with his fledgling girlfriend (Sarah Goldberg) and his mother (Lisa Emery) about Tom’s whereabouts and health. They’re still lies, of course, but he’s not really hurting anyone.

Playwright Steven Levenson takes his time distinguishing the Durnin men, and that’s part of the beauty of the piece. At first, Tom seems like the victim. The poor guy just got out of jail, and his family shuns him. James takes him in, but barely talks to him. But little by little we see Tom for the master manipulator he is. And we see that while James spent no actual hard time in the slammer, he’s been in a prison of his own for the last few years.

The set (Beowulf Boritt), direction (Scott Ellis) and cast all have an unassuming quality, allowing the power of the piece to creep up on you. And “creep” is perfectly fitting for Tom, though Morse skillfully peels back layers in this role to reveal the reasons why.

If you go

‘The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin’
Through Aug. 25
Laura Pels Theatre
111 W. 46th St.
$71-$81,
www.roundabouttheatre.org


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.