Little Theatre of Alexandria It Runs in the FamilyBy Laura & Mike Clark • Jun 11th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Little Theatre of Alexandria
Little Theatre of Alexandria, Alexandria, VA
$15 – $18
Playing through June 27th
Reviewed June 10th, 2009
As the staff of a London hospital prepare for the annual Christmas show, Dr. Mortimore prepares a lecture that is sure to guarantee him knighthood and much needed funds. All goes well until a nurse, with whom the doctor had an affair over eighteen years ago, shows up with a present of her own! Crashing wheelchairs, squirting seltzer bottles, doctors in drag, and window-ledge wrestling matches ensue.
Director Roland Branford Gomez has gotten some great work from his cast. Despite the show’s breakneck pace, especially in the second act, the show rarely felt rushed. There were a few points in the extended comic scene in the second act that the actors’ lines slurred together as they apparently tried to run the scene too quickly. An excellent touch was the wall clock running in real time, and referred to by various actors as the time for starting the lecture approaches.
This farce started out slowly while the scene was being set. Dr. Mortimore (Mark Lee Adams) set the groundwork in place throughout the first half of Act I, slowly twisting the truth as each complication (his wife (Rachael Hubbard), his boss (Ron Field), his former lover (Margaret Bush), his son (Jimmy Day)) occurred. Yet, the transitions between each scene gave the audience time to catch their breath and process what they had just seen.
Jeffrey Clarke as Dr. Hubert Bonney stopped the show several times as he “improvised” to help cover up Dr. Mortimore’s stories. His willingness to do anything for his friend was a huge part of the success of this show. Jim Howard was very believable as the gullible police sergeant. John Shackelford as Bill, the elderly patient stuck in a wheelchair, was entertaining despite his ongoing, repeated bits of humor.
The attractive set, designed by Robert Gray, had numerous doors and windows required for a farce. Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley’s costumes were spot on, with a few surprises thrown in throughout.
It Runs in the Family ran two hours and 15 minutes with one 15 minute intermission. This is the final show of the Little Theatre of Alexandria’s 75th season. If you need a laugh after fighting traffic, depressing economic news, or the violence in the world, It Runs in the Family might be just what the doctor ordered.
If you ask theatre-goers why they like farce, you’ll usually get an excuse something like “because I like the escape” or “because I don’t have to think too much” or “because I just want to laugh.” With all the bad news in the world today, farce is a welcome departure from the world in a fit of laughter. But if you think farce is an escape, think again. Farce’s humor entertains us precisely because it’s grounded in reality.
British playwright Ray Cooney has never made excuses for loving farce. Since the late 1960s, Cooney has written 17 farces that have played London’s West End. Run For Your Wife — considered Conney’s masterpiece-ran in London longer than any other comedy, and LTA audiences no doubt remember a very successful production of it on our stage three years ago. But a quick glance through Cooney’s farces reveals that his work isn’t particularly innovative: all of his characters are part of the British middle-class; all of his settings are everyday. Beneath his characters’ British reserve lurks sexual naughtiness; and (of course) his characters live happily ever after despite their tangled lies.
Yet, Cooney is a master of the genre. He never allows his audience to wander too far from the reality they think they are escaping. The characters take themselves very seriously, blissfully unaware of their own silliness. Although outrageous, we recognize every character type that appears in a farce…we all know or can easily imagine someone who has lied about an extramarital affair, enforce the rules with zeal, or lurches from one crisis to the next. All of us have found ourselves caught in a little fib that leads to much bigger problems.
So, sit back and let yourself be transported away from bank bailouts, high unemployment figures, housing foreclosures, and inadequate healthcare. Laugh at the craziness on stage. And when the final curtain drops and you return to your daily routine, look around. We bet that you’ll find elements of farce everywhere in your daily life.
The cast and crew dedicate It Runs in the Family to Bill Brannigan.
- Dr. David Mortimore: Mark Lee Adams
- Dr. Mike Connolly: Brian Clarke
- Rosemary Mortimore: Rachel Hubbard
- Dr. Hubert Bonney: Jeffrey Clarke
- Matron: Mary Ayala-Bush
- Sir Willoughby Drake: Ron Field
- Jane Tate: Margaret Bush
- Jane Tate (Understudy June 4, 12, 13 and 14)
- Leslie Tate: Jimmy Day
- Sister: Christina Tersero
- Police Sergeant: Jim Howard
- Bill: John Shackelford
- Mother: Carol Strachan
- Producers: David Hale and Russell Wyland
- Director: Roland Branford Gomez
- Assistant Director: Eddie Page
- Stage Manager: Margaret Evans-Joyce
- Assisted by: Heather Franklin
- Set Design: Robert Gray
- Set Construction: Chris Feldmann
- Set Painting: Mary Hutzler
- Assisted by: Jimmy Hutzler, Kevin O’Dowd
- Costume Design: Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley
- Wardrobe: Barbara Helsing
- Assisted by: Martha Crawley, LeeAnne Buckles, Robin Parker, Margaret Snow, Annie Vroom
- Properties: Margaret Snow, Art Snow, Bobbie Herbst
- Assisted by: Sharon Dove, Carol Hutchinson, Rebecca Johnson, Leslie Reed, Jayn Rife
- Set Dressing: Marian Holmes
- Assisted by: Nancyanne Burton, Allen and Jean Stuhl
- Sound Design: Anna Hawkins
- Assisted by: Keith Bell, David Correia, Bill Rinehuls, Alan Wray
- Lighting Design: Justin Lang
- Assisted by: Elizabeth Herbst
- Master Electrician: Eileen Doherty
- Assisted by: Elizabeth Herbst, Pan Leonowich, Mike O’Connor, Nancy Owens, Richard Schwab, Bob Spivey, J.J. Stinson, Carrie Vernon
- Hair and Makeup Design: Christopher Macey
- Dialect Coach: Carol Strachan
- Rigging: Russell Wyland
- Audition Table: Katherine Dillaber, Margaret Snow, Marian Holmes
- Photographer: Doug Olmsted
- Double Tech Dinner: Nellie Lovett
- Opening Night Party: Mary Beth Smith-Toomey and Frank D. Shutts II
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/3890.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.