Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 7, 2018

REVIEW: Majestic Theater, The War, and Walt Whipple

Majestic Theater, West Springfield, MA
through December 9, 2018
by Konrad Rogowski

The new original play by Danny Eaton, “The War, and Walt Whipple,” lives up to the words that he writes in his director’s notes, … “a warm and gentle play.”

Photo by Kait Rankins
This is a story of war fought on two fronts, that of the great battles of World War II and the hard trials they bring to the Whipple family; and the war churning in Walt Whipple’s head and heart, as his home, his values, and his prejudices are assaulted by the realities of a world changing faster than he can. These conflicts are told as a retrospective by a narrator, “older Ted” (John Thomas Waite), setting the scenes, and offering the insights of Walt’s youngest son Teddy (Christopher Rojas).

Greg Trochlil’s set reflects a safe and homey space from which the Whipples take on their problems, big or small. Walt’s struggles, adeptly portrayed by Ron Komora, are paralleled by those of his family. His wife, Alice (Sue Dziura), keeps him in touch with all that he would prefer ignore, while bartering gas stamps with a black market, cigarette smoking nun.

Walt’s renter, Charlie (Cliff Blake), a man badly scarred by an industrial accident, deals with a world uncomfortable with his presence. Walt’s son Hank (Tom Dahl) is wheelchair bound as a result of the war, and longs to see his wife live a ‘normal’ life.

Eaton’s direction of these troubled characters strikes a fine balance between the drama of their lives, and the daily humor of life’s little surprises, and delivers genuine, solid performances across this cast. Truly, Walt faces many trials, like his three sons’ wives living with him while their husbands are at war, which strains the bounds of his set bathroom conventions. For Walt Whipple, a house full of women and the diverse perspectives and values they bring may just be his greatest challenge.

In the end, life goes on for the Whipples, and audience members feel good for having spent an evening with them on their warm and gentle journey through, and beyond, whatever life’s wars try them with.