Actors Playhouse at The Miracle Theatre
Through December 29th
This very funny and heartfelt look at family interaction as we age, is based on the old Woody Allen joke “...If you wanna make God laugh, tell him your plans...”. I don’t know about God, but we sure laughed – and cried - a lot at the Actor’s Playhouse production of “Making God Laugh” running now through the 29th.
As we peered through the looking glass and saw much of our own family life coming back at us, it reminded me that regardless of where we are or what our background may be, all families have the same wants, desires, dreams, plans and issues. Shown through a series of those potentially treacherous family get-togethers, spread over 30+ years time, “Making God Laugh” makes us take a deep, poignant, realistic, funny (sometimes hysterical) look at what makes all families tick – change or lack thereof.
(L-R) Michael Focas, Angie Radosh, Peter Haig, Deborah L Sherman, Gregg Weiner
Part of what makes a show like this tough to do is the character’s aging before to our very eyes. The show covers a span of more than 3 decades, so we’ve got to see the transitions to believe them. Helped by Elmo E Lanclos III’s spot on musical and news clip transitions that set the time immediately, the solid cast makes the aging process real and believable. And we see how fast things can change in a relatively short period of time. We look at ourselves in the process and how we changed during those 10 year slices of history. Did we really dress like that, do those things? Will any of us every live down how we acted leading up to Y2K (a very funny scene in the show by the way)? How could we ever get mad at our kids!
Across the board top notch performances were headed up by empty nesters Bill (Peter Haig) and Ruthie (Angie Radosh). Solid turns as, Thomas the priest (Michael Focas), Maddie (Deborah L. Sherman) the rebel, aspiring actress, school teacher and Richard (Gregg Weiner) the former football player who’s still looking for himself round out the family circle. Strong performances by everyone reflects how all of us deal with our families – but mostly our mothers. Make no mistake, this show is about the matriarch and Radosh owns it. She’s compelling in every way, whether as the perfect mom, the queen of Catholic guilt, the woman with a very secret past or as the devastatingly real picture of a woman lost in different world. A great performance.
(L-R) Angie Radosh, Michael Focas, Deborah L Sherman, Gregg Weiner, Peter Haig
Sean Grennan’s tight script allows us to take a look at the dysfunction and control points within families without the morbidity that so often comes with family dramas. While the message is clear, it’s presented in a way that doesn’t beat you over the head, but rather touches you softly in the heart and mind. David Arisco’s always solid directing gets the most out of his cast and hits the right notes of comedy, sympathy, empathy and connection. Gene Sayffer’s set and design looks just like my grandmother’s house (and probably yours), including the holy pictures.
Both of us - God and the audience – laughed a lot during “Making God Laugh” but there’s really no joke. It’s just life. Laughter and pain are the glues that hold families together – and this show has them both in abundance. Don’t miss it.
Tickets at the Box Office at 305-444-9293 or online at www.actorsplayhouse.org