By Johnathan Vick
Starring Debbie Sussman
Dangerous Theater, Sanford FL
God may move in mysterious ways, but sometime it seems like He isn’t doing much of anything. It’s a cheerful household that contains this particularly unhappy family. Mother Gwen (Sussman) tries running the house like a Carthusian monastery, but her family never takes her vows. Tessie (Jade Roberts) dates boys and stays out all night, Aunt Debby (Vera Varlamov) still sleeps with her ex-husband but dates a Muslim, and dotty Grandpa (Larry Stallings) tells birthday suit gags. When her son Toby (Barry White) returns from the Middle East a decorated Marine, Gwen is disappointed he’s not interested in her particular brand of Christian self-flagellation. It’s so hard to run a kosher Catholic house; everyone ridicules her but this only strengthens her faith. It’s a faith she only came to when her husband died; he drank, smoked and swore but never went to church and she laments “How could God remove such a good Christian man?” There’s a LOT of yelling, and eventually she breaks; perhaps it might help if she actually READ her bible and not just gone with the Evangelical Cliff’s Notes.
It’s a long journey and some editing would help the run time. Sussman really poured on the emotion; you can tell shes lived this misery somewhere in some past life. Mr. White is the sanest guy here; he’s survived the war and maintained his upbeat and positive point of view only to lose it to one of those guns the paranoid keep around for burglars and suicides. Robert’s earthy sexuality brought us comic relief, and Ms. Varlamov’s ambiguous dating arrangements offered the most interesting yet unexplained situation. Grandpa Stalling plays a role where a weak, disenfranchised character offers deep insight to a higher status person who fails to see the truth in a situation. He’s the simpleton that reveals a great truth that any sane adult ought to have learned shortly after they were potty trained. This is a first class cast tackling an interesting story; and with a few trims this could be a very tight production exploring a whole stack of modern day cultural hot buttons.
For tickets and more information on Dangerous Theatre of Orlando please visit http://www.dangeroustheatre.com/orlando.html