SINS OF THE FATHER by Jeff Helgeson


Following an extended period of estrangement, two life-long friends and “reformed” drug dealers explore their common histories and eventually come to address the secret that both divides and unites them.



A.C. – fairly successful restaurateur in his mid thirties

Pat – less successful assistant office manager of about the same age


Sins of The Father was developed at The Chicago Playwright Center and first produced at The Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, Illinois after being previewed at the Metropolitan Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The play was later performed with an African-American cast in numerous independent venues and included as an inter-racial production within the Midtown International Theater One Act Festival in New York City.


Between two family men who, in different ways, appear to have it all, an intense dialogue, pausing only for quick swigs of beer and snorts of cocaine builds to a climactic revelation that is powerful and shocking

– Jae-Ha Kim, Chicago Sun Times.



In a contemporary suburban basement, the characters of A.C. and Pat – loosely based upon Homer’s Achilles and Patroclus – play out the biblical pronouncement “visiting the inequity of the fathers upon the children into the third and fourth generation.” This play presents an intriguing dialogue between two men, two life-long friends of greater and lesser success. A.C. and Pat, the two players in this drama, are both married and share common memories, but it is clear that it has been in their maturity that they have gone in different directions. A.C. appears to be the dominant one in the friendship. He is also the most successful in the most obvious ways, but his marriage is less than satisfactory in ways that he cannot explain. Pat’s marriage seems much more stable, though he wonders less at its foundations than does A.C., who is caught between a decent wife and a great mistress.

The two differ in their attitudes toward their children as well. One never wonders why these two guys keep talking through their disagreements, arguments, shared memories, and disputes. A.C. needs to figure things out but can’t, and Pat probably should try, but is unable. Helgeson, on the other hand, is quite able to convey meaning and change through his use of simple action, simple dialogue, simple use of the stage, and the simple qualities of our lives that add up to complex meaning. His characters live on beer and Bolivian marching powder, and that is appropriate and part of the “realism” which dominates this play. So is A.C.’s pornographic talk. And yet, Helgeson brings an allusive quality to his work with references to classical Greek legend in his modern characterizations of Achilles and Patroclus which at times seems as (or more) important as is the “real” narrative.

Sins of The Father brings us to a conclusive moment between the two characters seen in the play which is neither strained nor unusual. It is a powerful contemporary drama.

– John Jacob Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago Author of Long Ride Back, Night of the Dolphin, and The Cabin Recipient of The Carl Sandburg Award for Poetry


Approximately 40 minutes



Preview available here

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