Friday, February 17, 2012

QUICK TAKE REVIEW Chez Zeitgeist By Beverly Creasey

You may have heard of site specific performances where, say, a play set in a laundromat is performed in an actual laundromat (all the rage a few years ago). Well, the ever resourceful David Miller has transformed the Zietgeist space at the BCA into a patisserie/café—with the most delicious desserts ever to tempt a sweet tooth AND right in front of your little café table, a restaurant play! Zagat would rave over the décor, the pastry and the stellar service!

Since Zagat doesn’t yet rate theater, I say it’s always a treat to see any Alan Ayckbourn play (and we’ve been showered of late with first rate productions, from The Norman Conquests at Gloucester to Season’s Greetings at Wellesley to Zietgeist’s My Wonderful Day). TIME OF MY LIFE (playing through March 3rd) is recent Ayckbourn, and although he gives us the requisite family behaving badly, a bottomless well of material to be sure, it’s not the wild farce of his early work. It’s entertaining to witness outrageous behavior but there’s tragedy lurking behind this little comedy of bad manners.

The well off Stratton clan has gathered at their favorite restaurant for mother’s birthday and mother (Maureen Adduci), like Queen Victoria, is not amused: by her husband, by her children, certainly not by their gifts and definitely not by her favorite son’s “inferior” choice of girlfriend. Adduci oozes disapproval as the family disintegrates with every sip of the free flowing liquor.

Michael Steven Costello has an especially comic slide into despair as he discovers unpleasantries he’s rather not know. Glen Moore and Margarita Martinez as the painfully off again/on again son and daughter-in-law manage to elicit our sympathy, knowing what mother thinks of them. Evan Sanderson is delightfully bumbling as the son with the “nerve” to bring a hairdresser to mother’s party. Ellen Soderberg gives a sweet performance as the cheeky girl with the multi-color hair.

For my money—and because I love the tricks in the old Ayckbourn plays—it’s Gene Dante who steals the show in a million different guises (in hilarious hair and costumes by Fabian Aguilar) as waiters, the Maitre D, owner of the restaurant and as one hair-netted, opinionated old geezer who looks exactly like an elderly Italian woman I know!