If Arthur Miller were also a doctor on the side, he might have written a play like Unlikely Heroes. A family drama full of long-harbored resentments and new ones stemming from intimate secrets revealed, this world premiere on view at Boca Raton’s Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center also hinges on a potentially fatal condition that will require an organ donation. Oy, and you think you have problems?
Written by Charles Gluck, a retired gastroenterologist and occasional stand-up comic, Unlikely Heroes has an air of authenticity when it comes to medical matters, plenty of solid one-liners and – autobiographical or not – a believable depiction of family dysfunction.
Area favorite Avi Hoffman, recently acclaimed in New York for playing Willy Loman in a Yiddish production of Miller’s Death of a Salesman, both directs Unlikely Heroes and plays the pivotal role of David, a middle-aged garment worker in a business he co-owns with his older brother Leo (Michael H. Small).
In the opening scene, Leo berates his brother for some wasteful decisions, but is preoccupied with medical tests that loom before him. Leo soon learns the worst, that his kidney has failed and he needs a transplant quickly. At a tense Thanksgiving dinner, childless Leo asks David and his son Bradley (Robert Johnston), as well their flaky vegan sister Gail (Kim Ostrenko), to submit to blood tests to determine their possible organ compatibility.