Written and Performed by J.A. Moad II; Directed by Leah Cooper
Produced by Poetic Theater Productions
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 10.15.17
Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street
by Linda Buchwald on 10.9.17
J.A. Moad II in Outside Paducah: The Wars at Home. Photo by Hunter Canning.
BOTTOM LINE: Outside Paducah: The Wars at Home gives veterans a voice.
We see veterans all the time, on subway cars and city streets, and probably for most of us, we go about our day without thinking much about how they went from serving the country to begging. Outside Paducah: The Wars at Home gives audiences an opportunity to hear from the people we often ignore.
This begins with the pre-show program. Consequence Magazine, Warrior Writers, War Literature & The Arts, and Poetic Theater Productions are presenting Veterans Voices 2017, special readings of poetry and other work by veteran artists before each performance of J.A. Moad II's play.
Moad himself is a former Air Force C-130 pilot, and his play is three monologues, each offering a different perspective on post-war life for veterans. In the first, "Our Ghost," Moad plays a seven-year-old boy whose father has come home from Afghanistan with a traumatic brain injury. In "Cairo (pronounced K-Row)," a 51-year-old father of an Iraqi War vet tries to get a bank loan to start over. And in "Quittin' Meth or a few disclaimers we should have mentioned before you signed up to serve," a former soldier returns from Iraq to his hometown, a rundown steel town, and hits his local bar.
Moad is a stronger writer than performer. Each act succinctly gets its story across without too many expository details and conveys the emotions of the characters without being over the top, but there isn't much more that Moad adds that you can't get from the page. His delivery is fairly similar in all three, so he hasn't created distinct characters in his acting, though he has in his writing. He isn't quite believable as a boy, but seems most comfortable in "Quittin' Meth," and as a result, his performance in that act is the strongest.
Though Moad is not the most compelling performer, the production elements help mask this, especially Lisa Renkel's projection design, which gives us plenty to look at and helps ground us in a sense of time and place. Leah Cooper has directed Moad to make the best use of the space. Still, it would be interesting to see what a professional actor could do with the material.
(Outside Paducah: The Wars at Home plays at Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street, through October 15, 2017. The running time is 90 minutes (including Veterans Voices pre-show program) with no intermission. Performances are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 7; Fridays at 6:30; Saturdays at 2 and 8; and Sundays at 3. Tickets are $25 ($15 for veterans and students) and are available at by calling 866-811-4111 or at poetictheater.com.)
Outside Paducah: The Wars at Home is written and performed by J.A. Moad II. Directed by Leah Cooper. Projection Design is by Lisa Renkel. Lighting Design is by Daisy Long. Sound Design is by Sean Hagerty. Costume Design is by Helen Dillon and Shari Setchell. Stage Manager is Ellen Mischinski.