You Can't Take It With You
Reviewed by David Kashimba

Whenever we meet someone who is working so much they have no time to enjoy life, the first phrase that usually comes to mind is “you can’t take it with you.” On December 14, 1936, the play, You Can’t Take It With You opened in New York for a run of 837 performances. In 1937 this play, written by George S. Kaufman, won the Pulitzer Prize. The theme of this comedy, which is essentially to enjoy life, is just as pertinent today as it was when first performed. Then it was the looming uncertainty of WWII that hung over our nation, now we all feel vulnerable in our war against terrorism. The play, like the saying, conveys that nothing is worth worrying about because worry diminishes the living of life.

Adding to the joy of this comic drama is that three of the main performers are some of the best actors in the Bay Area. Robert Parnell plays the grandfather of a large nonconformist family. About 30 years ago he was part of corporate America and on his way up the elevator to his job in New York City when it dawned on him that he wasn’t enjoying the 9 to 5 work a day world. He hit the down button and never looked back, preferring to fill his time attending lectures, catching snakes and refusing to pay income tax. The rest of the family followed in his footsteps. His daughter Penelope, played by Meg Mackay, decided to become a writer when a typewriter was delivered to their house by mistake and her husband Paul, played by Will Marchetti, manufactures firecrackers in their basement and enjoys playing with erector sets in his ample spare time.

Other members of the family fill their days by taking ballet lessons or playing the xylophone. The only member of the family that works is Alice. A typist for a big New York firm, she falls in love with the owner’s son Tony Kirby who also falls in love with Alice and asks her to marry him. When these two opposite families get together, the fun gets funnier. It’s rich corporate America verses Alice’s “I’m happier to just get by” family. The fun gets really wild when Tony invites his parents over Alice’s house on a day they’re not expected.

This is a great play to see this holiday season. It’s message is funnier yet equally profound to other seasonal classics like Dickens’ Christmas Carol. For tickets call (707) 588-3400.

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