When middle-aged businesswoman Harriet Dawson begins a fling with a younger man, her uptight son George (Jason Tyne) and teen-aged daughter Jo (Grainne Belluomo) conspire to break up the romance and find a more chronologically appropriate mate for their mother. Enter the ex-husband, an under-sexed secretary (Hella Bel), and a book of historical hardware, and you have Change of Seasons.
This comedy about a MILF (Google it or see American Pie) and the men who love her has a lot going for it. It’s well-structured, with three-dimensional characters and a lot of subtle humor. Although it’s very enjoyable, it has a few flaws that will hopefully be addressed in future productions (it also deserves another production, since Thirteenth Street Rep
didn’t quite do it justice). Running a tad under two hours, the play was a little slow, and perhaps could use a bit of editing. There are plenty of comic moments that could be easily compressed into a shorter play. A sub-plot or two could go, and even some characters could be cut entirely, such as the daughter’s red herring of a boyfriend (Wade German), who’s onstage for a mere five minutes in a non-sequitur scene about teenage rebellion.
The acting was quite mixed, with some of the younger cast members giving stiff performances, possibly due to their lack of experience. Several potentially funny scenes were spoiled by a lack of comic timing on behalf of certain performers. On the bright side, leading lady Deirdre Schwiesow, as Harriet, carried the show well, but it was the play’s only Equity member
(Stanley Harrison as David) who stood out, even though he was only cast in a supporting role. Schwiesow and Harrison’s scenes were the highlights of the play, although Lars Stevens and Kyle Pierson made an excellent duo as a pair of romantic rivals for Harriet’s affections.
The play is set “A Generation Ago,” but the inconsistent costume designs failed to communicate any specific time period. A few pieces were vaguely reminiscent of the ’50s or ’60s, but most of the costumes seemed pulled from the cast’s closets. The set, by Tom Harlan, didn’t give the impression of any specific time period or location, either. Lighting (Gavin
Smith) was essentially one scheme that did, in fact, light the stage but did nothing to enhance the show. Simple lights up, lights down. Sound was nothing more than obviously canned phone rings and door bells.
Director Marianna Loosemore made some unusual casting decisions. In a play where age is central to the plot, some actors just didn’t look the age their characters were supposed to be. Also, teaming up the unfunny duo of Grainne Belluomo and Mimi Kate Munroe in the play’s first scene got the show off to a rocky start. Of course, the humor eventually came after the first scene or two and kept coming for most of the remaining scenes.
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Copyright 2003 Charles Battersby