Family Feuds

Cabin Crazy

By Joseph Coyne
Directed by Marianna Loosemore
13th Street Repertory Co.
50 West 13th St. (675-6677)
Non-union production (closes January 7)
Review by Andrés J. Wrath

Families always seem to intrigue dramatists; we all have one, and the crazier the family the better soil it makes for drama. In order to keep the dramatic interest up in any play such things as dramatic event and line of action are of importance. Joseph Coyne's new comedy Cabin Crazy offers a crazy family, all right, but very little in the way of surprises or freshness and a lack of clarity in what the play is actually about.

Fred (Steve Gesser) and Ed (Rick Wallace) are a playwriting team who go up the Adirondacks on Christmas Eve to finish a play. Other than their teammanship with playwriting they share one thing in common - they were both married to Hazel (Paula Riley). It isn't clear if they were expecting her to show up but she does. Also unclear is whether the kids were supposed to be there, but Gerard (Rick Sherman), offspring from the marriage with Ed, shows up after his wife decides to divorce him; and Francine (Anya Briggs), from the marriage with Fred, shows up pregnant and unmarried. The father of the baby is Nicky (Tom Detrik), a mobster. Finally, Gerard's wife Abigail (Kristin Cunliffe) shows up and announces that she is pregnant as well. Fights break out, chaos ensues, and reconciliation is inevitable.

The play has flashes of interesting dramatic ideas, but none seem to come to fruition. The most interesting is the fact the two writers had been married to the same woman. The setup was too neat; would someone who was married and divorced by two friends really be cooking dinner for them? Is there any competition between the men over Hazel? When Hazel chooses one friend over the other, is there devastation to her choice, any consequences? Perhaps in life things without conflict do happen, but on stage they usually seem half-baked. The play seems more interested in the kids and whether they are going to get back together with their lovers. Even when suicide is mixed into the conflict, never does there seem to be any real danger, and when the jilted lover leaves the stage there is no payoff of a gunshot or other retaliation.

The acting of Gesser, Wallace, and especially Riley helped matters considerably. Their unforced acting and grounded truth improved the material. Sherman was a sweet Gerard but looked a little too lost on the stage, Briggs was a game and funny Francine, Detrick did good work in a part that is much too cliche-strewn than need be, and Cunliffe gave a nice turn as the neurotic Abigail. The directing by Marianne Loosemore helped things, but without a clear script many parts of the production didn't seem ready yet.

The lights by Michelle Mishoe and Mobrie Montague were adequate, and the set design by Tom Harlan did its job.

Box Score:

Writing: 1

Directing: 1

Acting: 1

Set: 1

Costumes: 1

Lighting/Sound: 1

Return to Volume Seven, Number Nine Index

Return to Volume Seven Index

Return to Home Page

Copyright 2000 Andrés J. Wrath