It’s all right to loathe the members of the Brokken family, said playwright and director Blake Hogue.
Hogue, founder of That Theatre Company, said he wasn’t in a charitable mood when he wrote the dark comedy “Brokken Family.”
“I think it’s a mean-spirited, dark show,” he said. “I was in a nasty mood when I wrote it.”
The show opens Friday, May 21, in the black-box space at the Rochester Civic Theater. The production is That Theatre Company’s first show since December 2019’s “Jeff on the Shelf.”
Despite audience size restrictions to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the show will be able to accommodate bigger audiences than “Jeff on the Shelf” was able to.
The Civic Theater spaces are available for lease for other organizations. Past That Theatre shows were performed in a black-box classroom at the Rochester Repertory Theatre building, which is closed for renovations.
In “Brokken Family,” the oldest of three sisters boomerangs back to her parents’ house after losing her prestigious professorship at an Ivy League school. Old resentments between family members come back, and some new ones emerge.
Hogue said using the Civic’s space gives the actors more room and accommodates a larger audience even under COVID restrictions. The bigger performance area of 120 square feet also gives Hogue, who is directing the show, more options and room for blocking the action.
“Brokken Family” was one of That’s first productions performed at the Rep in November 2018. The original play is the first installment of a series Hogue calls the “family sucks” trilogy.
The language is coarse, and the characters do little to soften their words or curb their verbal abuse toward each other.
The company will produce the rest of the trilogy and an end-of-year performance of “Jeff on the Shelf” for an ambitious schedule of four shows in about half a year. “Jeff on the Shelf” sold out three days before it opened. Hogue said he hopes having larger crowds means more people are able to see it this holiday season.
Hogue said he wanted to get back to work after having no shows in 2020 because of the pandemic. He said he and the volunteer board running the company were looking forward to 2020, and even considered renting a space of their own. Looking back, Hogue said he’s glad they held off on that move.
“We lost all the momentum we had coming out of 2019,” he said. “But the good thing is, it gave me and the board time to think about what we want this theater company to be.”
If you go
What: That Theatre Company’s "Brokken Family"
When: 7:30 p.m., May 21-22; May 27-29; 2 p.m., May 23, May 30
Where: Civic Theater black box, 20 Civic Center Drive
Tickets: $20 at onstage.com