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Family overcomes pain in ‘The Wait’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — To those who live near it, the Gulf of Mexico is an entity, to some a deity born to give, take and destroy.

John Goff’s “The Wait” explores the lives of a family of shrimpers along the Mississippi Gulf Coast throughout a long night as they “wait with the wait.” The play will premiere at the Adobe Theater on Thursday, Aug. 9.

Lorri Oliver and Phil Shortell star in “The Wait.”

Their son heads out to sea alone, still haunted by the death of his sister in a fishing accident years ago. Soon a hurricane churns around him as he fights both the storm and his own demons for his life. The family grapples with their own ghosts as they wait on the shore. The reverberations from the past nearly drown them as the storm’s malevolence feeds their fears.

“The terminology of ‘waiting the wait’ means waiting to see if everybody comes home,” director Pete Parkin said.

“The first day of shrimp fishing is a big celebration with parties and beer,” he continued.

Years before, the family decided to do one last run with the nets and their daughter vanished.

The son is convinced the tragedy was his fault.

The family awaits his return in a seaside restaurant. As they sit, memories of their loss rise. The mother Lila still can’t so much as look at the ocean.

The playwright grew up in a family of shrimpers, Parkin said.

“John Goff is a friend of mine from Los Angeles,” he added. “He wrote a novel and then developed it into a play.”

The author is the former theater critic of the Hollywood Reporter.

He left the South for the stage and acted in both TV (“L.A. Law,” “Simon and Simon”) and the movies (“The Fog,” “The Buddy Holly Story”).

Parkin was drawn to “The Wait” by the family.

“(It’s) the love that the family has for each other,” he said. “A lot of times after (a tragedy) people start pointing fingers. But the love they have for each other really appealed to me.”