In the genre of coming home for the holidays, A Night with the Family centers in on mom, dad, son and daughter and of course, mom’s new boyfriend (yes, mom and dad are divorced).  Dad or Donald is likely to be featured on the popular hit show Hoarders. Mom or Diane is best described as a cougar with her new young French ballet choreographer, Antoine.  Bree is the somewhat homely stay-at-home soccer mom and finally we have Donny, a high-strung over the top guy who is avoiding his wife of only 3 months. Throw this rag-tag bunch into a living room on Christmas Eve and chaos is bound to ensue.

In a fast paced, almost farcical comedy, A Night with the Family is full of the quick-witted humor and zings that one usually thinks up as brilliant comebacks hours after the appropriate timing has passed.  Playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett has an excellent ear for dialog and humor we wish we were smart enough to come up with in real life including absurd tongue-twisting rants made up of fake swearing.

Strong direction by Lane Richins and Laurie Mecham pull together a star-studded cast including Jay Perry as Donny, Andrew as Donald, Elise Groves as Bree, Teresa Sanderson as Diane and Jesse Peery as Antoine.

Perry (Donny) steals the show as he literally almost tap dances around the stage with anxiety.  His facial expressions alone are crazy enough to make you bust a gut without him saying a word.  The chemistry he has with co-star Groves plays well as she is much more even-headed and calm, balancing out the relationship beautifully.  Maizner has been a favorite of mine for years and he does not disappoint as the eccentric father. And last but not least Sanderson brought a delightfully uncomfortable energy to the stage as she stormed around with her enamored boy-toy Peery in tow!

Though the night was full of humor and comprised of stellar talent, there was something missing.  I am not sure what it was, perhaps an arc to pull it all together or chemistry among the whole family to make it feel more cohesive, I really don’t know.  I just know that as I left I felt like it was a wonderfully entertaining show but that it was just slightly outside of the bulls-eye.

For the casual theatergoer (and I brought a few of those with me), the show was fantastic, hit the mark and a must see. For the bit more avid patron, it was a strong production and an enjoyable evening.

A Night with the Family is closing this weekend – you only have a few more chances to see some of the great talents in this city come together in one production.   For more information and to buy tickets, visit Pygmalion Productions.

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