HOUNDS OF WAR

Review: Family First and Family Last

 Hounds of War-106Every so often you find a play that offers a slice of life of reality after chaos. A piece that brings you the aftershock of trauma. In Bill Holland’s Hounds of War, we watch a family already torn apart by the past try to recover what was lost. After relocating to a cabin in the woods of upstate New York, Jim, a war veteran, and his wife Mary, and their two sons, Larry and Bobby, attempt to rekindle a family despite lingering problems and secrets.

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The Hounds of War – A War That Rages Within Us All

Hounds of War-106All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”  John Steinbeck

The story takes place in the living room of an isolated house in the wild where Jim has moved his family in hopes of starting a new life.  It is country which is also frequented by wild dogs.

The writer (Bill Holland) has created a fascinating story filled with complex characters and provided each with natural, believable dialogue.  There are, however, events that are puzzling.  One such event is a violent fight scene in which Jim attacks his wife.  Yet following the blackout, which appears to be a few days later, she appears without a scratch. Was it a dream?

Mark Cirnigliaro as director has done an exemplary job at bringing the writing to life.  The characters and situations never fail to keep the undivided attention of the audience.  Particularly notable is the parallel drawn between Jim and the wild dogs.  All is enhanced by the often ominous music and sound provided by (Matt Bittner).

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The writer (Bill Holland) has created a fascinating story filled with complex characters and provided each with natural, believable dialogue.  There are, however, events that are puzzling.  One such event is a violent fight scene in which Jim attacks his wife.  Yet following the blackout, which appears to be a few days later, she appears without a scratch. Was it a dream?Mark Cirnigliaro as director has done an exemplary job at bringing the writing to life.  The characters and situations never fail to keep the undivided attention of the audience.  Particularly notable is the parallel drawn between Jim and the wild dogs.  All is enhanced by the often ominous music and sound provided by (Matt Bittner).

Read more: The Hounds of War – A War That Rages Within Us All

HOUNDS OF WAR

HoundsOfWarAn emotionally spinning depiction of the family struggles encountered by a military veteran is poignantly and fiercely brought to the Dorothy Strelsin stage, in Hounds of War. The intensity of this production is woven with clearly expressed sentiment and dialogue, fueled by a synergy among the actors that is highly effective. Written by Bill Holland, a Korean War veteran, presented by Wee Man Productions and produced by Mark Cirnigliaro, Hounds of War takes you into the depths of a man’s tattered soul, his demons and the havoc wreaked on the lives of so many. The theater’s intimate setting, where the audience is nearly one with the performers, brings us even closer to the troubling view of the wars fought internally and externally, and the overall effect is truly spellbinding.

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Hounds of War

Hounds Of_War-103Because 21st-century American cultural ideals and expectations have turned sharply away from self-reliance, duty, patriotism, and the nuclear family, contemporary theater that approaches such ideas without disdain risks seeming dated. But “Hounds of War”, written by Bill Holland, neither reveres nor condescends to its subject matter or characters. Instead, the play offers a mostly matter-of-fact portrait of a family in transition (a “fresh start” in a new country home for the midlife parents, enlistment in the Army for one son, and the improbable return to college for the other).

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Hounds of War

Hounds of_War-101Hounds of War marks the impressive debut of new indie theater company Wee Man Productions.  The production, directed by Mark Cirnigliaro, exudes a polished professionalism that well serves Bill Holland’s ambitious script. 

Hounds of War tells the story of a family trying to start over, but who are so haunted by past wounds (and present doubts) that their future is in jeopardy.  They move to a new home in the remote countryside in upstate New York, but despite the change of scene, their emotional lives prove as constricted as their newfound landscape is vast.  Dad Jim wants to re-connect with his family, but he battles alcoholism, a violent temper, and self-doubt instilled into him by his father, a rigorous military man.  Mom Mary wants the family to have a new start, but she also wants a life of her own.  Elder son Larry wants to carry on the family’s military tradition, but he’s frightened of going to serve in Afghanistan.  Younger son Bobby marches to his own drum, rejecting his father’s conservatism while yearning desperately for his love, and nursing secrets that could alienate him from his father forever.  Friendly neighbour Henry, who served with Jim in the army, tries to help the family adjust to their new life—but given his own emotional baggage, it’s a herculean task.

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Hounds of War

Hounds of_War-106Man has always been seen as having this duality within himself, but what makes Holland's play so intriguing is that there is little choice in what this man ultimately becomes. He does not understand why his life is unfolding in such a way, when before all was so beautifully arranged. His son had joined the army, upholding the tradition of his father, grandfather and many more before him; his other son exists for the joy of his mother. There is such a clear unfolding of events, that this disintegration of character is so clear and ironically rational to the audience, while the man experience all that occurs beneath his roof has no other choice but to succumb - not accept, but succumb to the disappearance of any semblance of his vision that remains. Only his wife remains to do what she can with the pieces of this shattered man, but the transformation from man to beast is already too far in affect for anything more of real significance to be done.

There are certain shows in this great city that really should be seen by everyone - this show is one of them.

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