Two things loom large in this father-daughter drama - alcohol, and stuttering. You see, Jeff is basically a decent guy - he tries really hard to help his daughter Margo get her stutter under control. But he drinks, and when he's in his cups, Margo's stutter gets worse. Stuttering is common in life, but you almost never see it on stage. Which makes this play's performance by actress Stephanie Altholz as the daughter all the more unusual. She has it out with her dad in the car, after a particularly embarrassing episode.
MARGO: "Y-y-you know when I figured out when you were d-ddrinking again? It was t-t-two months ago, right before Andy broke up with me, and you met us for lunch. Not even dinner. Lunch. And you k-k-kept asking him how his chemistry classes were going…"
You get the drift. Dad's problem has gotten so bad he carries a coffee cup containing whiskey, which he disguises by hanging strings and tags from teabags on the rim.
Eventually, the daughter turns 18, and cuts him off. No phone calls, no visits. This sends him on a bender, which he explains to the audience in almost matter-of-fact terms:
JEFF: "After that, I got a benchmark case of the rock bottoms, I ended up on the hospital again. Shortly after that, I had to take an emergency medical leave from the station. I'm a sports anchor at KSTP, Channel 9. And I got down, with a little extended recovery at Hazelden."
Warning lights are flashing, but this guy doesn't get it. Eventually, the father tries to see his daughter again, hoping for a new start. And that gives actor David Pierini a complex role, because while the father's desire to rebuild the relationship is understandable, the way he goes about it is all wrong.
"Carapace" is a moody character study with a tragic arc - quite different from the jaunty comedies that are the B Street's bread and butter. And David Pierini's absorbing performance as the affable, but flawed father will linger with you long after the show ends.
The B Street Theatre presents "Carapace" through February 24th.