Watching Tom Clue and Spike Manton's play, which continues its world-premiere run at the Purple Rose through March 13, is like taking a warm bath in midcentury Middle American iconography. Along with the Rice Krispies Treats and Iowa, Clue and Manton toss in a complete baby-boomer childhood time capsule: Sansabelt slacks, grueling road trips to impossibly dull places, Dad toting up the mileage, and Mom, God love her, always with that glazed smile on her face. What was she on, anyway?
The scenes involving all this boomer apparatus are played out in the memory of now-middle-aged son "Don" (John Lepard) as he drives through the Midwest with a canister of Dad's ashes on the seat beside him. Playwrights Manton and Clue have midwestern credentials, all right. They both went to college in, among other places, Peoria, and they presumably know, as few people do, what actually does play there. This oddly genuine yet emblematic detail of their biographies struck me as funnier and more endearing than a lot of the play itself.