'HIGHLANDS' PLOT COMES UP SHORT.Byline: Deborah Klugman Special to the Daily News
"My Heart's in the Highlands" is an early work by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright William Saroyan Noun 1. William Saroyan - United States writer of plays and short stories (1908-1981)
Saroyan . Saroyan made his debut as a dramatist with this play, which is set in Fresno in 1914 and revolves around the relationship between a widower, his young son and an eccentric old man who ambles into their lives.
First presented in 1939, the play now premieres on the West Coast at the Limelight Playhouse in North Hollywood under the direction of Paul Dounian.
Few audience members are likely to sympathize with Verb 1. sympathize with - share the suffering of
compassionate, condole with, feel for, pity
grieve, sorrow - feel grief
commiserate, sympathise, sympathize - to feel or express sympathy or compassion its protagonist Ben (Shant Bejanian), a poet who scribbles madly at his poems while his young son Johnny (Terin Jackson) goes out and forages for food. Usually Johnny gets provisions from the local grocer (Paul Sarnoff), a grumpy Philistine who growls disparagingly dis·par·age
tr.v. dis·par·aged, dis·par·ag·ing, dis·par·ag·es
1. To speak of in a slighting or disrespectful way; belittle. See Synonyms at decry.
2. To reduce in esteem or rank. about lazy good-for-nothings who owe him money, but nonetheless forks over the requisite rations.
One day an old man comes along blowing a horn. The man, Jasper MacGregor (Rowland Kerr), charms Ben, Johnny and the rest of the townspeople with his tunes. A storyteller given to fantasy and illusion, he speaks longingly of the Highlands, where his heart, and that of his mother and grandmother, still lie.
Ben takes a fancy to MacGregor, an impractical man like himself. MacGregor moves in with the family and shares its meager mea·ger also mea·gre
1. Deficient in quantity, fullness, or extent; scanty.
2. Deficient in richness, fertility, or vigor; feeble: the meager soil of an eroded plain.
3. board (provided by Johnny) until the authorities from the local old folks home come to take him away.
A writer given to whimsy whim·sy also whim·sey
n. pl. whim·sies also whim·seys
1. An odd or fanciful idea; a whim.
2. A quaint or fanciful quality: stories full of whimsy. and sentiment, Saroyan probably intended this work to be a metaphorical representation of the artist's struggle with the world. Kitchen sink drama, after all, was not Saroyan's style.
Still, it's hard to work up much empathy for a main character (Ben) who allows his son to eat popcorn for four days, then sends him out to beg for bread and cheese when a stranger knocks at the door. (Oh yes, there's a ravenously rav·en·ous
1. Extremely hungry; voracious.
2. Rapacious; predatory.
3. Greedy for gratification: ravenous for power. See Synonyms at voracious. hungry aging grandmother in the household besides.)
The shortcomings A shortcoming is a character flaw.
Shortcomings may also be:
adj. stodg·i·er, stodg·i·est
a. Dull, unimaginative, and commonplace.
b. Prim or pompous; stuffy: shoestring affair that never sparks the imagination, either with resourceful staging or convincing performances - though Bejanian does get in a couple of believable moments, and young Jackson deserves credit for a stage presence that might blossom with firmer direction.
The show: "My Heart's in the Highlands."
Where: The Limelight Playhouse, 10634 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood.
When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays; through Feb. 11.
Running time: One hour, 25 minutes.
Tickets: $12 to $15. For information or reservations, call (818) 568-5822.
Our rating: One Star.
Photo Jasper MacGregor (Rowland Kerr) explains a point to young Johnny (Terin Jackson) in "My Heart's in the Highlands."