‘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

NYPD: Man denied money punches 65-year-old at Bronx…

A 65-year-old man was punched and shoved at a D train station in the Bronx last week when he denied another man money, police said.

Local

New York Governor Cuomo's office intervened in corruption…

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office meddled with a commission he created to root out corruption in state politics, pushing back whenever it focused on groups tied to Cuomo, the…

International

South Korea ferry fugitive found dead with bags…

By Ju-min Park and Sohee KimSUNCHEON/INCHEON South Korea (Reuters) - South Korea's most wanted man, whose heavily decomposed body was found in an orchard last…

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Books

Art imitates life (almost) in David Shaprio's new…

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."

Movies

Interview: 'Happy Christmas' director Joe Swanberg on making…

"Happy Christmas" filmmaker Joe Swanberg talks about the collaborative nature of his films with name actors and the difficulties of getting indies seen.

Gossip

Is Justin Bieber now a Calvin Klein underwear…

A source told the Daily Mail that Justin Bieber "has shot for Calvin Klein" and that they "hope the results will be released later this year." While probably…

Gossip

Peaches Geldof's death was drugs-related, coroner rules

LONDON (Reuters) - The death of Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and Band Aid founder Bob Geldof, was drugs-related, a coroner ruled on Wednesday.The…

NFL

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost

NFL

3 storylines to watch as Jets open training…

Jets head coach Rex Ryan might be in for an even tougher job in 2014 after arguably his best coaching job last season.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

Education

Elementary school students like their healthy school lunches…

  When the federal government first rolled out its healthier school meal guidelines in 2012, elementary schoolers weren't happy. Much was written about how America's…

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…