“The Young Man from Atlanta” at Stone Soup Theatre

Will Kidder, self confident, full of bluster and pride, is an aging Houston go-getter. He’s just built the 1950s equivalent of a McMansion, and he’s ordered a brand new luxury car for his wife. You’d think he’s on top of the world, but his only child, a son, has recently drowned, and, as if that’s not tragic enough, he believes it was probably a suicide. He suspects why but doesn’t want to know.

Gordon Coffey as Will owns the theatre. He’s the magnetic force field in this production of Horton Foote’s wrenching drama from the 1990s. We watch him disintegrate before our eyes as his life spins out of control with one crisis after another.

We never meet the young man in the title in this Pulitzer prize-winning play. Will wants no contact with this man who was his son’s roommate, believing that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. Besides, he suspects the young man wants to bilk the family out of money.

His broken-hearted wife Lily Dale (Maggie Heffernan), the quintessential southern belle and ‘50s housewife, disobeys her husband and sneaks encounters with and money to the young man.

Director Maureen Hawkins’ actors adequately perform their roles, and overall it’s a good production. But it’s Coffey’s performance that’s memorable. He embodies the emotions that Horton Foote so skillfully weaves into this oh so sad play about inordinate hurt tempered by the small mercies provided by self-deception.

Through March 10 at Stone Soup Downstage Theatre, 4029 Stone Way North. (206 633-1883 or stonesouptheatre.org).

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