LAUGHTER at The Colony!
Michelle Kholos Brooks’ brand new play (World premiere of FAMILY PLANNING) brilliantly directed by Cameron Watson, celebrates forty years of the Colony Theatre’s bringing new work and old to the stage. After early beginnings down on Riverside Drive, The Colony landed in Burbank in their beautiful mini Taper in 2000. In her curtain speech, executive director, Barbara Beckley, welcomed an enthusiastic audience, which rose in one body to a standing ovation to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the theatre. Overwhelmed with the ovation, Ms Beckley recovered to announce that after major financial struggles (Imagine that! Money issues for the theatre??) the Colony is on its feet and in the black. An atmosphere of fun filled the air.
Playwright Brooks’ play may feel a little like a situation comedy as there are some major situations and there is comedy afoot, but on David Potts’s beautifully executed set (the money is on the stage) we see that “Family Planning” for the characters is very necessary and in more ways than one.
Sidney and Michael (Dee Ann Newkirk and Jack Sundmacher) now live in the home where Sidney grew up. Her parents long ago divorced, but dear old dad, Larry (tweeting flower child Bruce Weitz) who has had some setbacks, is ‘temporarily’ back in the home. This forces the couple into the living room for an intimate moment. Coitus interruptus ensues as rattling at the front door makes the couple think that someone is trying to break in. It’s Mom, Diane, (lovely Christina Pickles). Situations advance a bit predictably as the parents who raised their daughter together in their home (now the domain of the youngsters) are forced to become some semblance of a family again.
Watson puts the cast through its paces. It’s professional actors in a well crafted piece of theatre. The laughs are fast and furious as the parents pretty much take over and the kids reveal their desire to have a family. Family secrets are revealed and a truly touching moment is shared by Weitz and Pickles as they slip into their cups via martinis and memories.
Christina Pickles and Bruce Weitz Photo by Michael Lamont
Brooks’ style is reflective of some of the best of Neil Simon, leaning toward The Odd Couple. Clever dialogue and creative character development work especially well for Pickles and Weitz, both well known and well loved from their long television careers. We are left wanting more. The story lines are well founded to possibly expand.
Family Planning has surprises and well placed jokes that surprise and as with Simon’s best work, leaves us bursting with joy and stopping for a moment to consider a little pathos at the same time. Lovely work. Do not miss this one for a totally enjoyable evening in the theatre.
FAMILY PLANNING : World Premiere by
Michelle Kohlos Brooks
The Colony Theatre
555 N. Third Street
Through August 10, 2014