Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Hope of the Prodigal Sons

Courtesy of Creative Commons
James Goldberg's play "Prodigal Son" enraptures audiences in a new spin on the classic Biblical parable. In the Bible, we read of a young man who abandons his father and everything he's been taught in pursuit of selfish pleasures. In Goldberg's play, a young man, Daniel, joins the church that his father left in his youth. Right from the start, the question is presented: Who is the prodigal son? Is it the son that was baptized against the warnings of his father and then abandoned his father for Thailand? Or is it the father that rejected the teachings of his own parents many years before?

A few years after joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Daniel decides he would like to serve a full-time mission for two years. Naturally, his father's reaction is anything but positive. They would have little-to-no opportunity to communicate for two years. In the father's eyes, saying goodbye for two years was akin to saying goodbye at a funeral. As such, for the first part of Daniel's mission, he lacked support from home as his father refused to answer calls and letters. By using common themes of loneliness and longing, this scene connects readers and viewers of every background to Daniel and his father. Nearly everyone has someone that they miss at one point or another, but this play instills hope that all is not lost. Throughout his mission, Daniel hoped that his father would find joy in his life again by returning to the Church of his youth. Likewise, Daniel's father had hope that his son would return to him and that they would be able to resume the friendship they found during Daniel's college years.

"Prodigal Son" may have been written by a Mormon playwright, but the hope depicted by the characters is not limited in who it may reach.


  1. Nice review! I'd like to know more about your personal reaction to the play, what parts you liked and what you didn't. But you did a great job explaining the primary conflict of the play and what the main plot points were. Good stuff!

  2. Confession: I haven't actually read this play yet. So the questions I had as an "unbiased" reader of your review were: was this play written specifically for Mormon audiences, or could nonmembers appreciate it equally? Did the play really end as inconclusively as you describe it? And, to echo Tyler, how did you personally feel about the play? Did it work for you?

  3. I liked the questions you posed about who the prodigal son was going to be. I wondered the same myself and didnt think it would actually be the son. However, the son was wayward in the eyes of his father so it ended up making sense and was an interesting spin on the well known parable.