Harry Townsend’s Last Stand

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Harry Townsend's Last Stand

Editor’s Note: We’re giving away 3 pair sof tickets to see Harry Townsend’s Last Stand. Click here.

It’s a scenario so many of us know all too well. And if you don’t know it yet, just wait. You might.

Here are the cold, hard facts: As you age, your parents age. The question that becomes glaring is, what do you do with your parents as they descend into an elderly state? Do you provide round the clock care in their home? Do you get them situated in an assisted living facility? What is actually affordable? And what if one (or both) of your parents are dealing with dementia? The most important question though, is what if they must go to a facility and they refuse?

Suddenly, life becomes incredibly complicated.

That dilemma is well expressed in the play, Harry Townsend’s Last Stand, starring Len Cariou and Craig Bierko at City Center. This two-hander lovingly depicting the relationship between an elderly father and his successful LA-based son is heartbreaking, poignant and hilarious all at once. Harry (Len Cariou), a former broadcaster in the Hudson Valley, is perfectly fine living in his Vermont home. His beloved wife, with whom he has had many wonderful sexual escapades, he shares with his son, has passed away. We learn that his daughter, (who never appears but we surely get to know her through the dialogue) lives close by. She cares for him daily, but at what cost? Her life is so wrapped around his needs that she has sacrificed her freedom. As it is said in the piece, his fight for independence has severely limited hers.

In the play, the dance between father and son, who are jockeying for control, is the lifeblood of the story. Craig Bierko plays Alan Townsend with all the proper nuances and is a perfect match to Harry’s curmudgeon-ness, well portrayed by the wonderful Len Cariou. (Although the fabulous Mr. Cariou struggled with his copious lines the night I saw the play, I am sure that by now he provides a much smoother delivery.)

Written by George Eastman, and directed by Karen Carpenter, with a perfectly designed set by Lauren Helpern, Harry Townsend’s Last Stand is a beautiful play that surely reflects what so many of us are currently handling, or have already experienced.

For my interview with director Karen Carpenter listen here:
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