“Now in the Anspacher Theater, Robert’s “chosen” family has found a suitable new home. Never has this space felt more intimate and inviting. James J. Fenton’s rough-hewed set design deftly disguises one of the thick columns, which can be problematic, as a tree trimmed in Joseph Cornell-style boxes full of bric-a-brac. Shadows of a picket fence ring the floor of the stage.” NEW YORK TIMES, by Charles Isherwood,
"..the stunning set and lighting design. James J. Fenton’s set, a pure expressionist fantasy of a wooded retreat deep in the woods, is protected by a Tree of Life, a soaring wooden structure made of multiple shadow boxes containing artifacts precious to someone and miniature scenes of (one assumes) happy moments in the life of the house. Ed McCarthy’s romantic lighting casts a soft blue glaze over the swing on the porch and the canopy of trees overhead." VARIETY, by Marilyn Stasio
“There’s much to admire here: the fabulous, five-person band, James J. Fenton’s evocative set and Thomas Caruso’s sensitive direction of his committed cast. Southern Comfort is different, beautiful and lovable, just like its heroes.”
TIME OUT NEW YORK
“Designer James J. Fenton’s homespun unit set depicts the backyard of Robert’s rural home and features a towering tree with branches that display a large collection of shadow boxes representing memories of happy times.” BROADWAY WORLD, by Michael Dale
"..there’s still so much beauty here. The twangy folk-bluegrass songs are played with gusto by five musicians, most of whom take on small roles. James J. Fenton’s set, especially its tree festooned with memorabilia, invites you into this intimate community." TIME OUT NEW YORK, by Raven Snook
“The band is situated on a small front porch rendered nicely as part of James J. Fenton’s set design, with musical director Emily Otto conducting surreptitiously from within the front parlor. Fenton’s evocative design also includes a broad back deck upon which a very inviting porch swing serves as the site for several assignations, as well as a significantly-sized playing area thrust out toward the audience. There’s also a large scraggly tree located in Robert’s back yard, which plays an important role in the action.”
EXAMINER.COM by Andrew Beck
A sprawling and magnificent set enables us to travel to the back hills of ‘Bubba Land’ Georgia where Robert Eads had his Taccoa home. In SOUTHERN COMFORT we see the glory of a very different American family being constructed from what some call misfits. Meeting on Sundays, their differences are both argued and celebrated openly, honestly and courageously in the community they have created for themselves. Despite pervasive predjudice surrounding them, here is the good earth in which they have planted trees, and each other in an effort to grow and survive." BROADWAY WORLD.COM by
"Lovingly designed in beat-up timber by James J. Fenton, the rural Georgia home of Robert (Annette O’Toole) provides a welcoming environment for a family chosen, as one of the characters observes, ‘not by blood, just by circumstance.’"
THE NEW YORK TIMES by David Rooney
"…the team behind “Southern Comfort’’ has a remarkable story to tell, and they’ve found a creative way to tell it. James J. Fenton’s exceptionally detailed set conveys a sense both of camaraderie and freedom (a wooden swing on which Robert joyfully pushes Lola) and protective insularity (a lattice fence), while also evoking Robert’s past. The set extends offstage into an adjacent hallway, where the audience encounters what Fenton calls “a folk art altar,’’ assembled out of an antique door, toys, tools, and boxes, on which repose pictures of Robert when he was a girl named Barbara."
THE BOSTON GLOBE by Don Aucoin
“The story has touching elements, but the standout is James J. Fenton’s beautiful set.” THE HUFFINGTON POST, by Fern Siegel