The ravages of war don’t end when the troops come home, much as we’d like to believe otherwise. High-profile cases like Timothy McVeigh or the murder-suicide of Iraq war veteran Zachary Bowen only underscore the more widespread phenomenon of soldiers’ relationships quietly unraveling once back home. Daniel Algie’s new play updates Euripides’ Heracles to the Vietnam era, presenting a hero returning from war whole-bodied but with a wounded mind. Algie plays out his material loosely. Eliminating one of Euripides’ main plotlines, he mostly substitutes conversation. An Athenian audience familiar with the myth might have picked up layers of irony and foreboding; without that context, it’s a desultory first act. But the second act’s tragic revelation creates genuine chills. Algie’s characters turn out to be playthings of larger forces, even if those forces are named containment and domino theory, not Zeus and Hera.
Harrison (Fletcher McTaggert) strides onto Josh Zangen’s stark Midwestern set like Gary Cooper, lending his eventual fate all the more pathos. The supporting cast delivers Algie’s lyrical language smoothly, but seldom rises above competence, though Connell Cole and Anthony Duke Claus tug heartstrings as Harrison’s sons. A more vivid production and a tighter script would liberate the raw power at Home Front‘s heart.