by Dalt Wonk
Hurricane Katrina was inevitably called “a catastrophe of biblical proportions.” The multitalented New Orleans writer John Biguenet has presented the catastrophe in three plays, all of which premiered at Southern Rep. Mold, the final installment, is currently on the boards at the Contemporary Art Center, and it is local original theater at its best.
Mold takes place one year after the storm and the levee failures. Trey (Trey Burvant) and Marie (Kerry Cahill) Guidry arrive at the flood-wrecked home of Trey’s parents — admirably evoked by set designer Geoffrey Hall. On the door is a red “X” with “2 dead” sprayed on it. That refers to Trey’s parents, who expired in the sweltering attic. Their deaths haunt Trey, who feels responsible.
The Guidrys have driven from Houston to the home to meet an insurance adjuster. Amelia Delachaise (Carol Sutton) arrives. She’s a neatly dressed woman with a clipboard, but she’s not the adjuster. She is a volunteer inspector for the city, and she is there to list the house for demolition.
Much of the dialogue is funny despite the grim situation. In fact, there is a great deal of low-key humor throughout. There also is deep personal tragedy and conflict.
Although the plan is to go back to Houston with the insurance money, Trey decides they will stay and fix the house. This leads to a fight with Amelia, whom he insults. Marie calms Amelia and the two women have a talk on the porch. Amelia’s own harrowing escape from the flood brings the biblical scale of the catastrophe vividly to life. Listening to Marie’s health complaints, the city volunteer realizes Marie is pregnant. Good news, except that it intensifies Marie’s determination not to stay in the wrecked house.
In Act 2, the insurance adjuster (Randy Maggiore) arrives, and Trey learns the difference between wind damage and flood damage. In short, the insurance will only pay about $1,500 for wind damages, because Trey’s parents didn’t have flood insurance.
The struggle between husband and wife works toward a climax: Stay, as Trey insists, or go back to Houston, as Marie insists. He must face his guilt about his parents, especially the father whose name he bears and many of whose faults he shares.
Director Mark Routhier did a superb job, putting this excellent cast through their paces in Biguenet’s fascinating play. Go see it.
Thru April 14
7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday
Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., (504) 522-6545