Last year, when Loretta Greco was hired as artistic director for the Magic Theatre, she said she wanted to bring back some of the Sam Shepard-esque energy to its productions. With playwright John Kolvenbach's Goldfish, she (serving here as director too) does just that. At the play's emotional center is the dysfunctional relationship between a father and son. Rod Gnapp brings a powerful and emotional depth as a man crippled by gambling addiction and irresponsibility. While he pushes his son (Andrew Pastides) off to college, not wanting him to follow in his own tragic footsteps, he also can't seem to take care of himself. This emotional dilemma soon threatens a beautiful love affair between the son and Lucy (Anna Bullard), a girl he meets at school. Lucy's upper-crust and drunken mother is incisively funny and played brilliantly by Patricia Hodges. Kolvenbach writes hilarious dialogue and sculpts scenes that deliver a punch to the heart. The theme of children trying to transcend the failures of colorfully depressed parents is Shepard territory, but Kolvenbach avoids the temptation to teeter into over-the-top lunacy and beautifully rides the dangerous edge in between.

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