In The Subject Was Roses, a young soldier returns home from World War II. He went to war as a boy; he has returned as a man. But he's still a son, and he must deal with the new family dynamics that the war has wrought. What remains most memorable about Avalon Theatre Company's staging of Frank D. Gilroy's 1964 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is the poignant portrayal by Whit Reichert as John Cleary, the affable failure of a father. Always quick with a quip, John stands out as the showy role in what is essentially a quiet play. Reichert, who is so deft with comedy, could have played the laughs — and then played against the laughs — and acquitted himself handily. Instead he chose to dig. Reichert shed light into the shafts of John's soul so revelatory and painful, a viewer found himself wanting to turn away and look elsewhere. But there was no place for Reichert to turn, so he kept digging until he struck a vein of truth in a play that in lesser hands might have seemed merely old.
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