Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Matter Familias"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Carl A. Rossi


"MATTER FAMILIAS"

by Ginger Lazarus
directed by Wesley Savick

Katherine … Helen McElwain
Mother … Nancy E. Carroll
Dad … Robert D. Murphy
William … Gus Kelley
Claude … Barlow Adamson
Lisa P … Kortney Adams
Lisa M … Karen “Mal” Malme

Should you choose to keep your distance from Scrooges and Nutcrackers this month, consider spending an evening in the whacked-out world of Ginger Lazarus’ new play MATTER FAMILIAS at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre: Katherine, a 33-year-old woman, decides to adopt William, a 40-year-old man, as her son to the dismay of her parents whose own adopted daughter Lisa M, an African-American, wants to conceive a child but with her partner, Lisa P, as the biological father; Claude, a sad-sack in love with Katherine, becomes an unwitting pawn in this dysfunctional chess game of who is biologically related to whom. Just when you think Ms. Lazarus will drown everything in whimsy, she rockets into true zaniness; her satire remains nursery-safe --- a Puck in diapers, if you will --- but her clever-clever dialogue is always amusing.

Richard Chambers has designed a spare setting that resembles caterpillar tents filled with dozens of baby dolls instead of larvae, director Wesley Savick keeps things as warm and fuzzy as an Edward Koren cartoon and his stylized cast is seamless save for Helen McElwain (Katherine) who continues to work with one expression (a rabbit in headlights) and one sound (flattened declamation); when carefully cast and orchestrated, she can be riveting; as the center of MATTER FAMILIAS’ universe, Ms. McElwain tends to wander as she has done in the past. Nancy E. Carroll, a playwright’s best friend, contributes a wonderfully burlesqued Mother, especially when in labor, and Barton Adamson (Claude), whether in comedy or drama, remains an intriguing mixture of burliness and sensitivity. Gus Kelley, more at home in contemporary fare than in the classics, displays a good sense of comic timing wrapped in a velvety purr; this is the second time in the past few months that he has displayed his well-developed torso: should Mr. Kelley get cast in the upcoming TAKE ME OUT, all I can say is Boston will be seeing more of him --- pun intended.

HELP SAVE BOSTON’S HISTORIC GAIETY THEATRE!

"Matter Familias" (2 - 19 December)
BOSTON PLAYWRIGHTS’ THEATRE
949 Commonwealth Avenue, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 358-7529

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |



THE THEATER MIRROR, New England’s LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |