BWW Reviews: Sam Bass Offers Charming, Quirky Look at Family With TABLE SETTINGS
There isn't much to say about the idea of the American Family that hasn't already been said, but as Table Settings proves, it's not what you say but how you say that matters. The joyous comedy, written by James Lapine and directed by Frank Benge, ops for episodes and sketches rather than a linear plot to give us a glimpse into the lives of a surnameless Jewish family, and each slice of life placed on the table is more delicious than the last.
As director Frank Benge points out in his Director's Note, "While the family in this play may be a Jewish one, I believe Mr. Lapine has written about all families, everywhere." Indeed he has. Table Settings exposes the eccentricities and oddities of each member of the family unit, and while Lapine uses the idiosyncrasies of his characters to comedic effect, he celebrates them rather than pokes fun at them. Benge does the same with his direction and staging which is beautifully, elegently simple with a needlepoint focus on the characters.
With his brief comedic scenes, Lapine tells us everything we need to know about his quirky cast of characters. Mother (Mary Southon) is the quintessential Jewish mother, often concerned with both her children and what's cooking in the kitchen. It may be stereotypical, but a stereotype that is brilliantly skewered by Lapine's witty writing and Southon's delightful, nearly self-deprecating portrayal. Her Older Son (John Iacoletti) is more concerned with the words in the pages of his newspaper or the contents of his martini glass than he is with the concerns of his neurotic Wife (a hysterical Christina Little-Manley) or the lives of his adolescent Son and Daughter (Logan Vohs and Kylie Shannon, respectively). Adam Rowland steals the show as Younger Brother. While quite intelligent and witty, Younger Brother's ambitions extend no further than getting high and working as a waiter. Lisa Raynelle Shelley is also quite funny as Younger Brother's Girlfriend, a commitment-phobic psychiatrist.
With its excellent cast, clever writing, and skillful direction, Table Settings is a crowd-pleasing comedy. Any fan of family sitcoms like Modern Family will undoubtedly enjoy this smile-inducing show.
TABLE SETTINGS plays Sam Bass Community Theatre (600 Lee St, Round Rock, TX) now thru March 7th. Performances are Thursday - Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $13-18. For tickets and information, please visit www.sambasstheatre.org