Reviewed by Karla Marie Froehlich
Fenton Village Players opened their 2018 Season last night with Things My Mother Taught Me to a small, but appreciative audience. This relatively new piece by Katherine DiSavino has some minor issues and the cast, led by director, Tammy Robinson, handled them with extreme dexterity. The cast was relatively young for being parents of adult children, but we suspend our disbelief in the theatre. One can hardly keep from thinking about things one’s own mother taught and the music helped keep those thoughts in the forefront.
In this script, the author uses pitfalls to challenge this young couple, and they leap over the hurdles right into the next falls. The actors could ramp up their angst by showing us they had something at stake. The adorable couple, Gabe and Olivia, is portrayed by real-life couple, Daniel Ragan and Shelby Rae Gibbs and perhaps are holding back that vulnerability from the audience.
The set was appropriately bland, as the young couple in this story are beginning their lives together and moving into a new apartment half way across the country, much to the chagrin of their parents, especially the mothers. His mother Lydia, played by Patti Lee, wants to completely clean and disinfect the entire place before they move anything in, which leads to problems later. Her mother Karen, played by Lauren Kondrat, wants them to be sure they are doing the right thing and is reminded that these kids have been together for many years. From the very top of the show, we see the set in action: holding the couple’s first joint purchase hostage!
The story line calls for drinking to occur and the fathers get blotto at the corner bar. We got to see great drunk acting from Matt Morgan, who played Carter, Olivia’s father and Matt Osterberg, who played Wyatt, Gabe’s father. This was a fun scene with the dads declaring that this is a great neighborhood!
The ladies get their drink on, too in the apartment on honey vodka, provided by Max, the building super, and played comically by Sam DiVita. An actor playing drunk is a challenge that each handled well. The men were the winners of the boisterous drunk! By the time the fathers come back to the apartment, no one is feeling the pain of not having moved anything but the new chair into the space.
Reminiscent of fifty-two-card pick-up, this short, fun romp falls into the perfect house of cards with an appropriate happy ending and is loose enough for a sequel. I know I’d like to see the next chapter.
Things My Mother Taught Me continues at the Fenton Village Playhouse, 14197 Torrey Road Fenton, MI 48430, February 23, 24, March 2, 3 at 7:00 pm and February 25 and March 4 at 2:00 pm. For more info and tickets contact the box office at 810-750-7700 or online at http://fentontheatre.org