All the way from Abraham and Isaac to Willie and Biff Loman, the difficult relations between fathers and sons have fascinated our great minds.
''The Winning Streak'' by Lee Blessing opened Thursday evening at The Spire, in downtown Jamestown, with yet another look at that famous old topic.
The play has only two characters: Omar Carlyle and Ry Davis. Omar is Ry's father, but his birth was the result of a one-night stand with a virtual stranger. Now Ry has flown all across the nation to meet the man he has spent his life wondering about.
At first glance, the two men couldn't be more different. Omar is a retired baseball umpire. With little money and having lived the life of an umpire, unpopular and disdained, Omar has little interest in any element of life, except his home team.
Ry, on the other hand, is an art restorer, a well-paying and highly respected profession. Unlike his father, his mother has been attentive and loving.
The pretext for the two men's interaction - when reunion doesn't seem to fill the bill - becomes that since Ry has arrived, a winning streak began for Omar's team. Just as some sports fans are so fanatic they won't change their socks, or they won't take a shower, for fear they will jinx the team, Omar is determined that Ry won't leave, as long as the team continues to win - and they do.
Each man wants desperately to impress the other. Each wants to cling to the other and make him part of their lives, while trying to drive the other away, before they can be abandoned again. They lie to each other, they insult each other, they confess things to each other that they've never told anyone else.
The play is heavy, for a May evening, and often very dark in its estimation of human nature. Skip Anderson, as Omar, and Adam Hughes, as Ry, are very believable. There is clearly a warmth between the actors, and the exploration of nature is believable and certainly raises memories in many members of the audience's minds.
The play has been sensitively directed by Robert John Terreberry, assisted by Steven M. Cobb. It's certainly a subject which needs to be examined, and they do a fine job of it.
''The Winning Streak'' is being produced by Theatre for a Cause, with profits from each of its three performances dedicated to a local charity. Thursday's performance brought profit to Chautauqua County RSVP and the Lutheran Foster Grandparent Program.
Friday's ticket sales will benefit the Zonta Club of Jamestown's program of strategies to end violence against women.
Saturday's profits will support St. Timothy Lutheran Church's Honduras Mission Program.
Performances take place at the Spire, across Third Street from the U.S. post office, and begin at 7:30 p.m.