Theatre’s Leiter Side Review of Cal In Camo

Theatre’s Leiter Side Review of Cal in Camo


William Francis Hoffman’s Cal in Camo, being given its world premiere at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in a joint production with Colt Coeur, is a well-acted, naturalistic, emotionally taut, kitchen-sink drama peppered with ambiguity. It has lots of beer, a rare rifle, marital dysfunction, sibling tensions, postpartum depression, partial nudity, a deer, and a raging storm, not to mention a giant sinkhole threatening to swallow the whole enterprise. Some of it is straightforward, some is surreal, some is funny, and some is opaque.

Cal (Katya Campbell, piercingly sharp) and her husband, Tim (David Harbour, achingly desperate), have bought a house on the edge of a forest not far from Chicago. Cal’s dry breasts are sore from trying to pump milk for her newborn although she says she feels nothing for her. Tim’s a struggling beer salesman who left his job in Chicago at Cal’s urging to work for a rural company with a line of fruit-flavored beer. The local folk, to his dismay, prefer the local brand, and he’s none too happy about having left Chicago.

The news that Cal’s brother, Flynt (Paul Wesley, sensitively grungy), is on his way ratchets up the torque in Cal and Tim’s strained relationship. Flynt’s wife, Annabelle, recently drowned in the flooded river abutting their trailer. Despite Tim’s disdain for the guy, Cal, herself a neglected child, tells Tim, whose abundant family she resents: “He’s my family and he’s all the frickin’ family I got and right now I feel like I could use a little family . . .” Soon after Flynt’s arrival we learn that the house was built on a sinkhole.

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