Couple disrupts the quiet of ‘Homestead Crossing’

LOWELL — Homestead Crossing is a quiet, comfortable place, the kind of place where not much ever happens and the residents like it that way.
In a world premiere by Massachusetts playwright William Donnelly, “Homestead Crossing” now at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre in a co-production with the Berkshire Theatre Festival and Portland Stage, explores relationships that can become too comfortable, people whose isolation becomes a prison of some sort and what can happen when events disrupt such a static existence.
It is another in a seemingly endless string of rainy days in the lovely home of Noel (David Adkins) and Anne (Corinna May) at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac.
They have been married for quite some time, and it seems they have run out of things to say to one another.

Claudia (Lesley Shires) and Noel (David Adkins) share some
vodka and some secrets in “Homestead Crossing.”
Photo: Meghan Moore

There is awkward small talk about the weather and the history book that Noel seems to be reluctantly plowing through in the lovely, cozy living room designed by Anita Stewart. Behind the small talk and awkward silences are issues that have been simmering for some time — a sex life gone stale, perhaps, hinted at by Anne, who remembers when she was “modest,” then got “a little wild,” and then became “modest” again.
Then a young woman appears sopping wet just outside their house, begging to be let in to use the phone.
Anne does so over the strong objections of David, and Claudia (Lesley Shires) enters the scene. She is a foster child with a with a long tale of woe and a history of making bad choices, but her boyfriend Tobin — himself no stranger to bad choices — is about to arrive and pick her up, whisking her up to Toronto, where the couple will enjoy a fresh start.
Then Tobin (Ross Cowan) also shows up sopping wet outside the picture window in the living room. When he is allowed to enter — again over Noel’s objections — he has a harrowing tale of the his car floating away down a flooded road, taking his and Claudia’s dreams with it.
Noel’s fear of a second intruder who could also be an ax murderer gradually lessens. Revelations are made — very personal ones, to be sure — and eventually the couples pair off, with Anne going off to smoke some pot with Tobin and Noel sharing vodka with Claudia.
With the ever-increasing number of revelations, the couples start to enter dangerous territory, especially as they compare notes.
“It’s so true when two people’s wants line up,” says Noel to Claudia. “I can’t remember the last time it happened,” he adds wistfully.
Claudia is sure she will avoid the pitfalls that await a couple grown too comfortable. “That won’t happen to Tobin and me.”
Donnelly drops hints along the way of the twists and turns he has in store for the couples on the way to a satisfying ending.
Director Kyle Fabel skillfully balances the relationships and the shifting sands of the piece.
“Homestead Crossing” is the first production at the newly-renovated Donahue Theatre at Liberty Hall, adjacent to the Lowell Auditorium in downtown Lowell. The renovation includes new seating, a new lobby and box office, among other improvements.
“Homestead Crossing,” by William Donnelly, co-produced by Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Portland Stage, and Berkshire Theatre Group, through Sept. 30 at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, Liberty Hall, Lowell. Directed by Kyle Fabel.