By Jason Clark
Updated December 08, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST
Durango, James Yaegashi

About the most dried-up genre in any medium these days is the road-trip journey, in which one family member suggests the clan venture out to explore some serious Life Lessons. (Witness this year’s biggest indie film, Little Miss Sunshine.) So it’s with great surprise that Julia Cho’s delicate Durango manages to both embrace and subvert its origins with finely wrought skill. A widowed, just-laid-off 56-year-old Korean dad (James Saito) takes a car trip to Colorado with his two dissimilar sons — a 21-year-old slacker/med-school hopeful (James Yaegashi, pictured) and a sexually confused, eager-to-please teen (Jon Norman Schneider); dirty laundry is aired, secrets are revealed. Except in Chay Yew’s quietly observant staging (assisted by Dan Ostling’s impressive, shape-shifting set), the usual hand-wringing drama is replaced with a deeper understanding of how fathers and sons rarely know each other despite living under the same roof, and how sometimes brutal honesty is just as detrimental as a casual lie. The cast could hardly be better, and Saito is a particular standout as the stern, conflicted patriarch. For a 90-minute play, it’s possible there are a few disclosures too many, but no scene rings false in the slightest. (Tickets: 212-967-7555)