Review: World Premiere of ‘Home of the Brave’ at Merrimack Repertory Theatre

Angelica Potter

OnStage Massachusetts Critic


LOWELL, MA - The world premiere of Lila Rose Kaplan’s hilarious farce ‘Home of the Brave’ is the perfect show to end a stellar season of shows brought to us by Merrimack Repertory Theatre. The play focuses on Senator Bernadette Spence who has recently taken over her late mother’s Senate seat and longs to live up to her mother’s legacy. Inspiration strikes when Adrian walks into the Senator’s office on Christmas Eve offering to be her campaign manager if Bernadette would run for president. With new found purpose, she heads home to Iowa to convince her family to support her run for the Presidency. They are less than thrilled, but as chaos ensues, the family rallies together and makes their holiday one to remember. 

 John Gregorio and Karen MacDonald courtesy MRT

John Gregorio and Karen MacDonald courtesy MRT

When performing a farce, comedic timing is essential for success and this perfectly cast group of actors skillfully brought every ounce of comedy from the page to the stage. Bernadette Spence is splendidly played by Karen MacDonald, whose portrayal is strong and heartfelt. Adrian, a multi-faceted Englishman of questionable intent, is impeccably played by John Gregorio. Veronika Duerr, last seen in MRT’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life earlier this season, humorously plays Marianne, Bernadette’s college age daughter. Marianne’s enlightened partner from college, Val, superbly played by Jordan Brodess, joins her in Iowa with high expectations of an old fashioned family Christmas. Rounding out the cast is Joel Van Liew, amusing as Bernadette’s husband Owen, and Cheryl McMahon who nicely plays the witty Dora. The cast as a whole does a fantastic job with the various elements of physical comedy. 

The set, designed by Randall Parsons, is realistic and detailed. It seamlessly transforms from the kitchen of the family home in Iowa to the beautiful barn built by Bernadette’s husband Owen. 

Lights, designed by Brian J. Lilienthal and sound, designed by David Remedios, work together perfectly to magnify the many comical elements of the production. 

Lila Rose Kaplan’s play is fresh, relevant and incredibly well written. Brought to life by Sean Daniels’ brilliant direction it is one of the best farce’s I have ever seen and it surpassed my expectations. 

‘Home of the Brave’ is 90 minutes of pure fun, but it only plays at Merrimack Repertory Theatre until May 15th so don’t hesitate to get your tickets. The full house responded with a standing ovation and you will too. Tickets range from $60-$23. To purchase tickets or find more information check out or call 978-654-4678. 

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