“For I am come to set a man at variance against his father. . . and a man’s foes shall be of they of his own household. He that loveth father and mother more then me, shall not be worthy of me.” In Matthew chapter 10, Christ says this, our loving savior says this difficult and terrible thing, lays out bluntly in somber prophecy, a possible grim consequence of conversion. We would rather not believe him. We would rather believe that conversion and familial bonds strengthen each other, that love transcends and smoothes over even the most deeply seated differences. James Goldberg’s play Prodigal Son unerringly and compassionately shows just how rocky the path to conversion can be for even the most loving families.
A single father, utterly devoted to his son, a brilliant and thoughtful and damaged man. A son, committed to honoring a father completely worthy his respect, but also committed, fully and completely, to a new revelation. Goldberg’s play takes these two superbly drawn characters, and sets them at odds with a compassion and intelligence that earns and rewards every moment of an audience’s rapt attention. The play never once vilifies the agnostic father, and never takes the easy way out, suggesting his eventual conversion and testimony. The play shows us two proud, smart men, who will never agree and who will never stop loving each other. A hopeless situation, perhaps, but the play is full of hope as well, and the possibility of redemption and transcendence. For this extraordinary dramatic achievement, the Association for Mormon Letters is proud to honor James Goldberg’s Prodigal Son.