The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin
“The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin” explores whether it is possible for a once-powerful, now-disgraced man to return to the family that was hurt and humiliated by the revelation of his white-collar crime, especially after they have worked so hard to move on with their now separate lives.
Steven Levenson’s sober-minded, contemporary domestic drama’s title implies the answer.
No matter how hard he tries, no matter how many tricks he has up his sleeve, no one wants to talk to Tom Durnin (chillingly played by David Morse), especially his wife Karen (Lisa Emery) and son-in-law Chris (Rich Sommer), who works at the firm where Tom was a senior partner.
Despite initial resistance, Tom convinces his emotionally damaged son James (an excellent Christopher Denham) to let him sleep on his couch. He also tracks down Karen and tries to blackmail Chris into getting him rehired at the office — even though Tom has been disbarred.
He also manages to get in the way of James’ promising romance with a painfully shy girl (the endearing Sarah Goldberg), possibly out of pure spite.
While the play (which runs just under two hours with no intermission) makes for a powerful and very truthful character study, it is very difficult to enjoy a play about an absolutely dislikable, non-sympathetic and unapologetic character. The scenes can also be quite long-winded.
Director Scott Ellis has staged the drama in an especially muted manner. Although this may honor the intentions of the playwright, a livelier staging could have made it less oppressive in tone.
“The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin” plays at the Laura Pels Theatre through Aug. 25. 111 W. 46th St., 212-719-1300, roundabouttheatre.org.