Being a part of a generation that consumes so much media quickly (i.e. six second Vines, 15 second Snapchats and non-stop Twitter timelines), it’s sometimes admittedly difficult for me to sit down, shut off my phone, and focus all of my attention on something for more than an hour. However, yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a play where not even once during its entire 85-minute run was I itching to give it anything less than my full attention.
Running now at the Whitefire Theater in Sherman Oaks, Father, Son & Holy Coach is a play definitely worth watching. Emerging from a hiatus after its original premiere in 1993 at The Santa Monica Playhouse, and with new producers, Tyler and Jesse Posey, Father, Son & Holy Coach is a one man play both performed and written brilliantly by John Posey. You may recognize him from his brief stints on How to Get Away with Murder, NCIS and Teen Wolf, but it’s in this, with him performing solo on stage, that his extreme talent for telling a captivating story with many layers is showcased to its fullest.
On the surface the story may seem like it’s just about football, and a wacky dad with an over competitive nature, but when you dig in more you find that there’s a lot more to it. The play essentially follows the life of Johnny Sanford, a fictional man from Tupelo County, Georgia. By reflecting back on his relationship with his father/football coach, Ed Sanford, and life in general, we learn what it’s like growing up in a place where the only thing more important than football is, maybe more football.
Even with football lingo being laced throughout the story, it’s evident, even in the chilling opening monologue that this play is about much more than that. If there’s two things to take away from this play, it’s the value of relationships along with an important message on self-love. A line the play is centered around is delivered in the opening monologue by the coach; “better to have died than to have fumbled the ball.” Throughout the play, the truth of that statement unravels and by the end we find that it’s best to just learn from our fumbles while we can.
The heartbreaking relationship between man and his son (with a ferocious love for his mother known for her pointed needlepoint creations) bares even more weight when you factor in the reason John [Posey] decided to revive this story in the first place. On the heels of his wife and father’s passing, John brought this play back to spread his message; and I think it did the trick.
I went from laughing, to wincing from secondhand embarrassment at some of Johnny’s trials and tribulations, to crying, back to laughing again, and then finishing with a sentimental smile. When someone is passionate and genuine about something it really shows in their work, and while I was watching, this was evident. For anyone who has the chance to go out and watch this story unfold on stage, I’d highly recommend it.
Catch Father, Son & Holy Coach Fridays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 3:00 pm at the Whitefire Theater (13500 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA 91423) until August 30th.
Buy your tickets here!