Though written in 1939 and set in a small American town in the 1920s, the characters and story can easily be a page out of life in today’s suburbs. The play focuses on four sisters, two living in the same house, a third sister in the house next door and a fourth, Esther, about a block away. The reason Esther lives so far is because her intellectual husband David can’t stand her family, or as Ida’s 40-year-old son Homer puts it: Uncle David “thinks we’re all a bunch of morons.” David, however, does make one exception. He feels Homer’s father, Carl, is at least one member of the family that gives some thought to his place in the universe. But as far as the rest of the family is concerned, whenever Carl is thinking, he’s just having “another one of his spells.”
Though the entire play is chocked full of family foibles that keeps the audience laughing, most of the drama hinges on two characters: Arry, the old maid sister who lives with her sister Cora and her husband Thor, and Homer, who still lives with his parents.
The high, sexually-frustrated energy of Arry is expertly played by Joan Mankin, a veteran Bay Area actress who recently directed Michelle Carter’s Hillary and Soon Yi Shop for Ties at the Magic Theatre last year. Mankin’s excellent acting mirrors a stellar cast of well-known Bay Area actors including Chris Ayles (David), Joe Bellan (Carl), Wanda McCaddon (Ester), Pat Parker (Ida), Edward Sarafian (Thor), Kerri Shawn (Myrtle), Patricia Silver (Cora), and Howard Swain (Homer).
The shy Homer, who after dating the same girl for seven years finally brings Myrtle home to meet his family, is the exact opposite of Arry, yet these two characters are the most mysterious and reveal hidden secrets that builds the drama and comic energy to a fever pitch.
For tickets to this excellent production, call (415) 388-5208 or order on line at www.marintheatre.org.
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