Four Our Fathers
Previously produced at Actors Theatre of St. Paul, Four Oar Fathers — which playwright Jon Klein describes as a “feverish comedy about growing up Catholic in Kentucky" — provides a humorous look at fatherhood, failure, and forgiveness. This is the West Coast premiere of Four Our Fathers.
Christopher Steiner is a too, too serious young man who has always been more comfortable philosophizing about life than participating in it. Now, estranged from his wife and newborn son, Christopher is forced to examine his past in hopes of making some sense of his life. On a journey through three decades in his fevered memory, he must come face to face with broken relationships, missed opportunities and the not always welcome memories of the “fathers” who inﬂuenced his life.
The play is filled with the humor of recognition while we watch Christopher's progression from adolescence to adulthood, as he attends his first confession, makes his first best friend, experiences his first seduction, dutifully marries his college sweetheart and fruitlessly pursues a career as a singer/songwriter. Through it all, he is possessed by an earnest desire to do what is “right” according to his own well-intentioned, but unrealistic, moral code. “Why are you so smart about things you never gonna need,” asks his friend Pee jay, “and so dumb about human facts?"
The play follows Christopher’s attempts to answer this question, examining his relationships with the men who helped shape his life; his bullying best friend Pee Jay and his alcoholic father; Father Jenson, the slightly radical parish priest; and Jesse Paxton, his fiancée’s dog-breeding father who is quite a philosopher himself.
At the heart of the dilemma, however, is Christopher’s relationship with his dad, Eddie. Unable — or unwilling — to connect with his own father, Christopher has always been quick to seek the guidance of the other men in his life, willfully ignoring the one man closest to him. Only by breaking down the emotional barriers which separate him from his father, can Christopher come to terms with his own fatherhood.
While the play deals with serious issues, it contains liberal amounts of the humor for which Klein’s work is known. A native of Kentucky, Klein just moved to Seattle from Atlanta, where the Alliance Theatre recently produced his play Southern Cross. His play T Bone N Weasel, recipient of the HBO Playwrights USA award, has been produced by regional theatres across the country, and Klein-is currently at work on a film version for the Turner Entertainment Network. His other plays include Bluegrass, Losing It, Fault Line, Peoria and The Einstein Project, written with Paul D‘Andrea. Klein is an alumni of the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, and the recipient of fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush and McKnight Foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to continuing work on Four Oar Fathers, Klein is currently writing an adaptation of Stendahl’s The Rea and the Blade, commissioned by ACT.