October 12, 2016

A vintage video game opens a portal into a fractured family’s past in “The Dudleys!,” a meandering, quirky comedy-drama by Leegrid Stevens presented by the Loading Dock Theater. In one corner of the set at HERE Arts Center is squeezed a facsimile of a typical teenager’s bedroom, complete with an old-style tube television and a game console. As the play begins, a character referred to only as the Gamer enters and fires up the controls. Or rather is ordered to by the zombielike figure who stumbles onstage: Dead Tom (Joe Burby), who we will soon learn is the Dudley clan’s father. He’s now, as his nickname suggests, dead, but somehow still able to manipulate his family from beyond the grave. Soon scenes from the family’s past are springing to life in the center of the stage, mostly a blank space against the back wall on which elaborate video projections race by. The chronology is rather fuzzy, but much of the play takes place in the immediate aftermath of Tom’s death. He is survived by his wife, Clara (Erin Treadway), who chirpily discusses over dinner who will pick up his ashes. She’s working today — and, oh, she’s decided to convert from the family’s Mormon religion to Judaism. “I have found that I really like the people,” she explains. “They’re good thinkers.”