IT RUNS IN THE FAMILYBy: Ray Cooney
Director – Sherri Small
Scenic Designer—Rodney Dobbs
Lighting Designer—Catie Blencowe
Sound Designer – Sherri Small
Costume Designer –Dallas Costume Shoppe
Dr. David Mortimore—Alex Rain
Dr. Mike Connolly—D. Aidan Wright
Rosemary Mortimore—Robin Coulonge
Dr. Hubert Bonney—Josh Hepola
Dame Winifred Drake—Nancy Lamb
Jane Tate—Kelly Moore Clarkson
Police Sergeant—Mike Spitters
Reviewed Performance: 11/2/2019
Reviewed by Genevieve Croft , Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
While I consider the farce to be one of the most difficult styles of comedy to tackle, director Sherri Small was able to carry the performance out with fantastic staging, spot on comic timing, and over-exaggerated and bombastic characters. Ms. Small led a medium size, but tight ensemble cast who were synched and worked well together. The cast collaborated with a design crew that intricately knit together scenery, sound and costumes, enhanced the story being told by these over the top, farcical characters. There was never a dull moment on the stage during the two-hour production. There are many pieces that are essential in making a comic farce successful-the versatility and talent of the actors, the quick pace and timing, and the staging. Ms. Small was able to execute and lead each element with grace, and professionalism.
While some productions might be inhibited by a small and intimate theatre space, a black box theatre is perfect for a farce. It allows the audience to get up close and personal with each character, and to become a part of the insanity and dishonesty that is presented by each character. It was enjoyable to be a part of the production, and to sit within close proximity of the story.
Sets were designed by Rodney Dobbs. While very functional, the scenic design provided everything that was necessary to execute this production. I thought that the use of color and texture in the set never took away from the action and dialogue on stage, and allowed the audience to see these zany characters on a neutral backdrop. The best element of the set design was the large window overlooking the city of London (presumably a high-rise hospital) complete with a ledge that provided many visual gags as the story was told. It was an interesting element of added detail.
While costumes and sound design left much to be desired, the lack of these elements of design were easily overlooked as the story began to take flight. This can be especially true with stories that take place during more recent decades. There is not much that can be done with a production such as this- modern costumes, and music that lacked some consistency with the time period. However, it was not a flaw in the production. Only two elements that are not very notable.
If I am pressed to find one element of the production that needs mentioning in this review it would be the pacing. Pacing started out extremely slow, and it took some time to the actors’ to find the appropriate pacing of the comedy. Once the story started to unravel, and the confusion began, the pacing caught up and was able to maintain a steady speed all the way to the end. I am confident that as the company continues their production run, any pacing issues will go away. This is often the case with any comedic performance.
Alex Rain was incredible in the role of Dr. David Mortimore. Through facial expressions, mannerisms and overall delivery, Rain convincingly portrayed the lead physician who gets entangled in a story of paternity, mistaken identity, and deception. Mr. Rain’s comic timing was on point during this performance. Mr. Rain reminded me very much of James Corden-from his facial expressions and line delivery, Mr. Rain provided the audience with great amounts of laughter and dismay as his story unraveled, and deteriorated.
Josh Hepola was fantastic in the role of Dr. Hubert Bonney, Dr. Mortimore’s colleague and accomplice in the story. Not only did Mr. Hepola provide a fantastic foil to Mr. Rain but, he brought moments of naturalism and honest humor to the stage-which was a nice contrast to the forced humor of Dr. Mortimore. There were moments of absolute hilarity between both actors, and provided the audience (and myself) with several hard laughs throughout the second half as the story got more convoluted and clouded with details.
Paul Niles was wonderful in the role of Bill, an elderly and sometimes forgetful hospital patient who contributed many extra moments of side laughter and got mixed up in the web of deception that was running rampant around the hospital. Mr. Niles had phenomenal moments of humor, and fantastic facial expressions during his short time on stage. His energy was very high, and I greatly enjoyed seeing the craziness that his character provided to the main plot.
It Runs in the Family is definitely worth seeing. From the moment the production begins, the audience will find themselves wrapped up in moments of quick and witty dialogue, and scenarios from the unbelievable to the absurd. If you have never seen a farce before, I highly recommend seeing It Runs in the Family at Theatre Frisco. Not only is it an excellent example of highly difficult comedy, but, it will leave you with many needed belly-laughs-and they say, “Laughter is the best medicine!”
Black Box Theater in the Frisco Discovery Center
8004 North Dallas Parkway
Frisco, Texas 75034
Plays through November 17.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm
Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 pm
Ticket prices are as follows:
$14.00-$22.00 depending on seating.
For more information or to purchase tickets visit: http://www.theatrefrisco.com, or call the box office at 972-370-2266 between the hours of 10:00 am and 6:00 pm.