Honour

That’s the sort of sound that, preceded by a warning freeze in the action and a light fade, announces the end of each scene of Joanna Murray-Smith’s "Honour" in IU’s Wells-Metz Theatre. I mention it because the first time it’s quite a shock and as the evening goes on comes to be painfully anticipated.

"Honour" at the IU Theatre is Joanna Murray-Smith’s version of the classic, older man finds passionate love with attractive younger woman despite guilt feelings and injury to faithful wife and shock to other family members.

Jeff Grafton, in a stylish turn as the older man, even talks about his situation being a cliché. Rosalind Rubin was both attractively purposeful and yet vulnerable as the younger woman. Jessica Rothert had the difficult job of presenting a relatively unattractive older woman. Rothert, however did get the funniest line in the play. When she rises to take control of the family finances and her filandering husband says he never knew her to take an interest in money," she dryly replies that she never knew him to take an interest in adultery. Alyson Bloom rounded out the quartet as the family daughter, neatly presenting the irony of the "new woman" who’s both furious with her father for leaving and with her mother for somehow failing to keep him.

All of the characters of "Honour" are great talkers about emotions with duty to self actualization being pitted against duty to family, with new love versus love with some history and with freedom against constraint. Following the husband’s leaving, the poor mother has to take grief from both the young interloper and ironically in much the same stance even from her daughter about giving up her own writing career to support the husband’s work and raise the family. At times the show feels like a series of sessions in an intellectual encounter group. The cast has a heavy burden of dialogue and it’s to the credit of director Murray McGibbon and the actors that much of the dizzying talk has an authentic ring to it.

Joanna Murray-Smith’s "Honour" plays each evening this week in the Wells-Metz Theatre of the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center. Showtime is seven-thirty.

You can find an interview with cast members Jeff Grafton and Jessica Rothert on our Arts Interviews page .

George Walker

After completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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