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Things My Mother Taught Me

a Comedy
by Katherine DiSavino

COMPANY : Centerstage North Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Art Place - Mountain View
ID# 5504

SHOWING : May 10, 2019 - May 18, 2019



Olivia and Gabe are moving into their first apartment together. They’ve just packed up all of their belongings and driven halfway across the country, to start a new life together in Chicago. Their moving day doesn’t go exactly as planned, though, and things become slightly more complicated when all of their parents show up to help! Can a two bedroom apartment contain all of the love, laughs, worry and wisdom that’s about to happen?

Director Jerry Jobe
Carter Keegan James Connor
Lydia Lawson Gisele Frame
Karen Keegan Marge Krengel
Olivia Keegan Sorcha Masters
Wyatt Lawson Jim Wilgus
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Lightly Shod in the Park
by playgoer
Monday, May 20, 2019
Gabe and Olivia are just moving in together, taking an upper-floor apartment in the city. Parental disapproval and/or disappointment in their living conditions is a real possibility. Sound like Neil Simon’s "Barefoot in the Park?" There are echoes, but it’s Chicago instead of New York City, the couple isn’t married yet, both sets of parents show up instead of just one mother, and a foreign building manager rounds out the cast instead of an exotic neighbor and a couple of worn-out delivery/repairmen. Most notably, playwright Katherine DiSavino is no Neil Simon.

Jeff Costello’s set shows a room with a window up right, through which we see a high-rise building across the way. A door upstage center leads to the hall outside the apartment, while a door and a hallway stage right lead to bedrooms. There’s an efficiency kitchen just stage left of center, and the only furnishings are boxes along the walls and an armchair wedged into the entry door. The first part of the action revolves around the dilemma of getting this oversized armchair into the apartment. The rest of the plot concerns the theft of the U-Haul moving van containing the rest of their possessions.

Ms. DiSavino’s script has a lot of bits of physical comedy, ably brought to life by director Jerry Jobe and the energetic cast. This is a well-directed show, keeping the action moving along from start to finish and creating distinct comic personages for all the characters. The show itself isn’t terribly engaging, since it traffics in a lot of stereotypes, but it is certainly entertaining. Blocking is perhaps not as varied as it might be, with all the cast members arranged in a near-straight line at one point, but costumes, props, David Reingold’s lights, and Winston Johnson’s sound make the show look and sound good.

Performances are better than fine across the board, with Mr. Jobe encouraging his actors to make distinct, consistent character choices. Haley Masenthin is a hoot as the Polish building manager, and Sorsha Masters and Alex Doriot bring the young couple to life. The parents are played in one couple by Jim Wilgus and Gisele Frame and in the other couple by Marge Krengel and James Connor. Mr. Wilgus has a scene-stealing turn with a whipped cream can, while Ms. Frame garners laughs sleeping in a chair. Ms. Krengel plays a downer of a mother with an underlying sweetness, and Mr. Connor drunks it up delightfully. This is a well-matched cast, with all the actors seeming to be working at the top of their games.

The title "Things My Mother Taught Me" isn’t very descriptive of the play. True, there are two mothers in it who love to give advice, but that’s not the focus of the play. Mother doesn’t always know best, and the young couple at the center of the story take Dad’s advice as often as Mom’s. But the title is an apt one for a Mother’s Day show, and anyone attending is in for a comic treat that won’t make them think too hard (although it may make them laugh a whole bunch!). [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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