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‘The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin’ explores family, forgiveness

Left+to+Right%3A+Lucas+Wells+as+James+Durnin%2C+Loren+Bass+as+Tom+Durnin+and+Julia+Glander+as+Karen+Brown-Canedy+star+in+%27The+Unavoidable+Disappearance+of+Tom+Durnin.%27
Left to Right: Lucas Wells as James Durnin, Loren Bass as Tom Durnin and Julia Glander as Karen Brown-Canedy star in 'The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin.'

Left to Right: Lucas Wells as James Durnin, Loren Bass as Tom Durnin and Julia Glander as Karen Brown-Canedy star in 'The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin.'

Sean Carter

Sean Carter

Left to Right: Lucas Wells as James Durnin, Loren Bass as Tom Durnin and Julia Glander as Karen Brown-Canedy star in 'The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin.'

Faith Brody, Life Editor

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Family drama is unavoidable.

However, it’s more aggressive and painful if your father is the perpetrator of a white-collar crime that brought your whole family down.

In “The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin,” the latest production at Meadow Brook Theatre, the Durnin family struggles to come to terms with the crimes that Tom Durnin committed.  The play, written by Steven Levenson, is making its Michigan premiere at MBT. Levenson also wrote the book for the new smash Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Lucas Wells, who plays Tom’s son James, described the crimes in the play as a “microcosm” of Bernie Madoff and the 2008 financial crisis. Tom’s crime almost took out his entire family’s finances. Wells’ character had to leave Yale because the family could no longer afford his education. The stress from his father’s crime destroyed his romantic relationship, and James is now working an unfulfilling job to make ends meet.

When his father turns up at his doorstep after serving his sentence, James is hesitant to let Tom back into his life and the family after the devastating accusations were leveled and family members worked hard to clean up their lives and move on.

“His actions were kind of like a cancer that spread throughout the family,” Wells said.

The play focuses on the family dynamic while members try to let Tom back into their lives, but especially focuses on James. Wells explained that James looked up to his father and was broken up when his father turned out to be a fraud.

“He’s just skimming by, trying to get through every day,” Wells said. “Probably had all these hopes and dreams that were just shattered because of his father’s very selfish decision.”

Since the play also deals with the most recent financial crisis and was written its wake, Wells believes that the story is still timely and should be heard.

“I think it’s very easy to forget what led up to the end of 2008, with the stock market crash and human greed getting in the way,” he said. “I think that would be very easy to forget because we’ve been a lot better since then.”

While Wells admits the show may not be a light, silly night at the theater, he hopes it challenges the audience with its themes of family and forgiveness.

“Forgiveness. How to find that and how to move on,” Wells said.

“The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin” plays at MBT from March 15 to April 9. Tickets are available for $33 and up at regular price. Bring your Grizzly ID to the box office for 20 percent off advance tickets, or $11 tickets the day of the show. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com, or by calling the MBT box office in Wilson Hall at (248) 377-3300. For more information, visit www.mbtheatre.com.

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