Outside Paducah, The Wars at Home, is a searing set of vignettes written and performed by J. A. Moad II about the effects of recent and current wars across generations of boys and men. Outside of these stories, Mr. Moad has been key in getting the stories of veterans told in public. He has worked with the state of Minnesota and now New York to get the stories from Veterans told. With Outside Paducah he presents three stories that are poignant without being overly sentimental or graphic. Instead, Mr. Moad explores the emotions raised by military duty, both on the veteran, and the immediate family.
|J.A. Moad II in OUTSIDE PADUCAH: THE WARS AT HOME, at the wild project, produced by Poetic Theater Productions. Projections by Lisa Renkel. Photo by Hunter Canning|
The first story is told by the seven-year-old son of a veteran with a traumatic brain injury. The young boy’s family is moving to be closer to a VA hospital. He tries to make sense of a father who wails at night, a mother who won’t share all the information and his impending move from his friends and everything he knows. This story is perhaps the weakest of the three. Not in the story or the telling, but because Mr. Moad does not make an especially believable seven-year-old boy.
The second story is one side of a discussion for a bank loan for a father of an Iraqi veteran. This story is painful piece watching this man trying to come to terms with the world that has ruined the happy young man that his son was before the war. Mr. Moad transforms into the broken father right in front of the audience.
The final story is told by an Iraqi veteran who comes back to his old town, visiting a bar - one of the few places that hasn’t dried up back home. Here he tries to reconcile the desolation of his hometown and the mental state of his friend, with what he has been through in Iraq. His angst, confusion and memories compete to dominate his response. It is the best piece, both in writing and in Mr. Moad’s acting.
Each individual moment in Outside Paducah plays out with honesty and intimacy. Leah Cooper directed this piece well, including an effective, but not overwhelming, use of imagery and music.
Outside Paducah, The Wars At Home | Playwright: J. A. Moad II | Director: Leah Cooper | Cast: J. A. Moad II | website