Thoughts & Musings

Sons of the Prophet Finds Solace in Sorrow

" 'Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.' "

By Jamie Coelho, RI Monthly
  • 5th November 20135/11/13
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Joseph Douaihy (Jed Hancock-Brainerd) has been dealt a hard hand in life, and although he and his family are suffering, they learn to look on the bright side of things.

Bad things seem to happen in threes. I don’t know if that’s because we look for things to go wrong, or because there’s some kind of prophecy that balances the universe. In Stephen Karam’s Sons of the Prophet, now playing at 2nd Story Theatre’s new DownStage theater, Joseph Douaihy (Jed Hancock-Brainerd) has been dealt a hard hand in life. Bad things keep happening, and although he and his family are suffering, they learn to look on the bright side of things, much like the famous Lebanese poet and author of The Prophet Khalil Gibran, who is a decedent of the Douaihy family. “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars,” says Gibran.

At age twenty-nine, Joseph is learning to live with a debilitative illness that’s sidelined his running career. Hancock-Brainerd plays the perfect curmudgeonly young man who barely cracks a smile even when it’s okay to laugh. He’s accepted a job working at a publishing company with an irritating ex-New Yorker boss only for the health insurance benefits. Meanwhile, his father is accidentally killed by a high school prank gone wrong after a star football player leaves a deer decoy in the middle of a dark road. Joseph’s dad swerves to avoid it, crashes his car and ends up in intensive care. Later, he suffers a heart attack in the hospital and dies. At the same time, Joseph’s uncle’s health is deteriorating and Joseph and his brother, Charles, must care for him in their home. Charles, played by an endearing Andrew Iacovelli, is a breath of fresh air in the play as a man who finds joy in comparing states and countries to shapes of everyday objects. The uncle (Vince Petronio), is everyone’s uncle, that unassumingly politically incorrect old man whose comments elicit uncomfortable laughter. Ironically for him, both of his nephews are gay.

The brothers – Joseph and Charles – learn to accept their father’s untimely death; Charles finds solace in paying homage to his father’s favorite Saint, Saint Rafca, while Joseph turns his focus to healing his own body. The twosome plans to meet with the boy who killed their father after he contacts Charles online to express his sympathy. The unfortunate situation ends up creating a bond amongst the trio, and the men agree to testify in front of the school board to allow the foster youth to continue playing football so that he may have a chance to go to college. Meanwhile, Joseph’s boss, Gloria Gurney (Paula Faber) convinces Joseph that his life is worth writing as a memoir, with the draw being his family ties to Gibran. She needs a book; he needs health insurance, so it’s a deal made in misfortune. And it turns out, she also needs Joseph in her life just as much as he needs the job to survive.

There’s also a romantic side to the story. A handsome young news reporter (Charles Lafond) stealthily tracks down Joseph in a train station to try to get an interview for his coverage of the prank turned tragedy. He pretends to coincidentally run into Joseph and turns on his flirt factor. Joseph falls for the man and it’s hard to tell if he’s being exploited or if there really is a romantic connection. In the end, all that matters is that he learns to let go despite what may have happened to him. It is only then that he truly begins to live again.

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