I first saw Ropes of Sands as a staged reading at Curious Frog Theatre Company’s gala fundraiser back in May, 2011. I was impressed overall at playwright Toni Seger’s ability to dabble in the surreal and the ironic, as in the three short-short one acts we saw that night, and the straight-forward realism of Ropes of Sands. Now featured in Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, the forty-five minute play shows us a slice of American family life in the weeks after a tragic death. We cringe at uncomfortable exchanges between repressed father and self-righteous son as they try to take the chill off of the night and the situation with small talk and copious amounts of brandy. When the free-spirited cousin drops by to try to gain some perspective on the tragedy, and to share with the others her particular method of dealing with it, the sparks really fly. I cannot say it is a happily spent forty-five minutes, but it’s a meaningful span of time in which the audience is forced to look at family dynamics, and the ways different people deal with grief. The actors are well cast in their various roles, and further interest is added by Curious Frog’s famous color-blind casting (though it certainly isn’t unrealistic to think that there can be white and black cousins in the same family). The father and son, played respectively by Barry Phillips and DeSean Strokes, portray their straight-laced characters to perfection, while Angela Sharp as flighty cousin Meredith provides a jarring contrast. Directed by the strong and sure hand of (Artistic Director) Renée Rodriguez, the play makes a strong impact and leaves us with much to think about. You can see Ropes of Sands in conjunction with dark comedy The Stranger to Kindness, June 14th at 6:30 PM, June 15th at 8:45 PM and June 18th and 23rd at 4:00 PM. Proceeds from the Theatre Festivity benefit various charities.