“American Home” revisits an American crisisLos Angeles Post-Examiner

“American Home” revisits an American crisis

From 2007 through 2010 a massive financial crisis swept across all of America causing many thousands of people to lose their homes by foreclosure. Leading up to the crisis was a rapidly rising housing market where home prices seemed to go only one way — up. As the housing boom was racing along banks added fuel to the fire by greatly expanding their sub-prime loans, that is home mortgages for people whose credit history wasn’t up to the previous acceptable standard.

So prices kept soaring, people kept buying, banks couldn’t lend fast enough to almost anyone. Then the bubble burst. Prices began to tumble, people began to sell and the banks began foreclosing and millions of Americans suffered greatly smothered in debt and desperately seeking some resolution, often losing their homes to foreclosure. Playwright Stephanie Alison Walker takes a close look at this severe crisis through the eyes of a small and poignant group characters in her play American Home.

Florence Rainwater is an elderly widow desperately seeking to remain in her home for her final days. Her home is in Ann Abor, Michigan while Mike and Dana Washington are about to lose their dream home in Silver Lake, California. The Prosperity Preacher Paula fears the loss of her Florida based mega-church and Robert West is a police officer in Michigan given the unpleasant assignment of serving eviction papers on those whose homes have been foreclosed. Together and each in their own way these main characters, along with a couple of news reporters, reveal the deep pain, hurt, shame and fear so many Americans faced during this dark period.

That alone provides a solid essence to the play American Home, but one element I found particularly compelling was the matter of suicide. By the second act Florence Rainwater [wonderfully played by Bette Smith] seeks to end her pain by committing suicide. She fails in the suicide but discovers that there is still hope and love in the world.

Mike Washington [portrayed by Jono Eiland] goes to infamous Southern California landmark in the City of Pasadena, a bridge widely known as suicide bridge. There he stands contemplating his final act. Does he eventually jump or not? If he jumps what does that do to his beloved wife Dana? If he does not jump how does he resolve his personal crisis? For that answer you have to see the show.

There is a great deal of pain and darkness in American Home but there is also a good measure of love and positive power. There is also a much needed dose of real world truth brought to focus in one scene where the people suffering are contemplating the role America’s primary leader at the time, President Barack Obama, would, could and should play in resolving the mess. This is viewed by all regardless of their political persuasion.

American Home is presented by Little Candle Productions and may be seen at the Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Freemont Avenue, South Pasadena, California. Show times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets may be purchased HERE.

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About the author

Ron Irwin

Ron Irwin was born in Chicago, Illinois a long time ago. He served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, became a trial lawyer, TV and radio host, CEO of a public company and once held an Emmy. He never won an Emmy he just held one. Ron has written and published twelve books. His most important book to date is “Live, Die, Live Again” in which Ron tells of his early life and his unexpected and very temporary death in 2012. That experience dramatically refocused his life and within the pages of that book Ron reveals how he achieved a much healthier life, ridding himself of Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Failure. Now Ron enjoys writing about many things including health topics, travel [he has circled the globe several times], adventure, culinary experiences and the world of performing art. Ron’s motto is “Live better, live longer and live stronger because it feels great and annoys others.” Contact the author. Contact the author.