BWW Review: APRIL, MAY & JUNE Examines if Sisters Can Unite After a Family Secret is Revealed
Theatre 40 is a well-known for presenting superb and very professional World Premiere productions in the Reuben Cordova Theatre on the campus of Beverly Hills High School. Their winning streak continues with APRIL, MAY & JUNE written by Gary Goldstein and directed by Terri Hanauer which continues through April 16, 2017. In it, we meet April, May and June, fortyish sisters all born a year apart. They're Jewish by birth but temperamentally so different, which becomes all the more apparent as they gather in their family home to pack up what is left of their mother's belongings to give to Good Will and discover a hidden family secret among her belongings.
"It's one of those strange family phenomena how siblings can grow up under the same roof, with the same parents, often around the same time, yet walk away with such different views of their childhoods," quips playwright Gary Goldstein. "But what happens when a lifetime's worth of memories and perceptions about a parent is suddenly upended by a startling new piece of information - especially when that parent is no longer alive to explain or defend that discovery?"
Such is the case when the three sisters are almost finished packing up when love letters are discovered hidden behind a desk drawer. And what happens when it turns out those love letters had been written to their Mother, a person each believed to be the perfect parent, from a man all knew as children yet had no idea any of this was going on back then? And as she was the parent who had been most present in the sisters' lives, since their father had been an alcoholic, will the revelation change their perception of how to live their own lives "better" than their Mother, who had endured and persevered with this hidden secret, or are they all doomed to repeat the same bad behavior?
As the shocking surprise upends everything they thought they knew about their mother, each becomes more honest and open with each other about their own feelings, knowing it is finally time to tell the truth with each other. We sense their family dynamic will be changed and the revelation will impact their lives forever, but how will these newly revealed developments affect their relationship with each other?
April, the eldest, is the most dominant, played to perfection by Jennifer Laks. As the sisters interact while packing up, we learn April's marriage has crumbled beneath her husband's infidelity and her own rigidity, so how will she react to finding out the same thing happened in her parents' marriage yet they chose to stay together? Has she done the right thing by not forgiving her own husband and moving on, especially since her loneliness is all-consuming?
May, always conscious of being "the middle one," has issues with her weight but seems to have moved on and accepted herself and is enjoying a fulfilling marriage. Jennifer Taub lets us see inside May's insecurities, often suffering pangs of remorse and guilt for always relying on others to make decisions for her. But of the three sisters, she is probably the most "normal" and well-adjusted emotionally, happy with her life and family.
June is the youngest, is a lesbian whose own partner has been wayward and left her. Meredith Thomas portrays June with just right amount of bravado and flamboyancy, always striving to get her sisters to just pack up "all the crap" and get back to their own lives. It's evident she is the most successful in her career, but still cannot find a partner to fully engage in her life with her. When she comes to realize she was the one not fully engaged, we can only hope her future will play out to create the happiness she deserves - with the same being true for each of the sisters.
Perhaps this newly opened window that has removed the blinders on their past will guarantee it. Then again, can old family patterns really be changed so they can move on from living in "dysfunction junction?" I'll let you decide that for yourselves when you meet April, May & June.
As always, technical credits are immaculate from Jeff G. Rack's set design filled with enough tchotchkes to allow the packing to continue non-stop throughout the play, individualized costumes designed by Michèle Young to reflect each of the sister's personalities to a tee, with lighting and sound designed by Ric Zimmerman and Joseph "Sloe" Slawinski to add appropriate focus as each scene unfolds.
You don't have to wait until April, May or June to get your tickets to the sibling revelry in the World Premiere of APRIL, MAY & JUNE, written by Gary Goldstein. directed by Terri Hanauer, and produced by David Hunt Stafford for Theatre 40, located in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Performances continue March 16- April 16, 2017 on Thurs.- Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 2:00. Tickets are $30 and reservations may be made by calling (310) 364-0535 or online at www.theatre40.org. There is able free parking in the lot adjacent to the theater - just follow the signs from the northern entrance on the campus.