BWW Review: MISTAKES WERE MADE Reunites Three Friends Trying to Make Amends Before it's too Late
Certainly, all of us can think of mistakes we made which caused unseen, or perhaps even planned, problems for our friends and/or family members. And as we age, it seems that when we recognize the need to make amends to set things right in our own lives, we need to do that before it's too late. But what if trying to make amends causes even more problems when the truth is revealed, while causing laughs galore at the foibles of all the players?
Such is the case in the world premiere of Jerry Mayer's tenth play, MISTAKES WERE MADE - Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda, at the Santa Monica Playhouse. In fact, the comedy has been so popular with audiences, it has been extended through the end of September! Directed by Chris DeCarlo, who has stepped in to play comedy writer Jeff Cohen (for the month of June until Gregg Berger returns to the role from July-September), the organizer of a reunion with his two former writing buddies at their favorite lunch spot, The Kibbitz Room at Canter's Deli.
Performed on a small stage set containing a rectangular center table where the three men meet for lunch, with two smaller tables at each side which serve as locations for past memories as they are discussed (as does a raised platform area behind the Canter's table as the men nosh on pastrami sandwiches and cheesecake), Set, Lights and Video designer James Cooper creates all the locations needed via projections on the otherwise blank stage walls. Thus, we are able to move from inside Canter's to the homes of all three men, an agent's as well as other studio offices, park settings, and many others where the memories of mistakes made are played out.
In a nutshell, the talented duo of Paul Linke and Kyle T. Heffner portray Dick Turner and Mel Friedman, Jeff's comedy writing buddies from bygone years. It seems their last rather volatile lunch included perceived anti-Semitic remarks made by Turner towards his two Jewish friends. Yiddish is used liberally, but it is easy to understand what it being said since the actors translate everything for their non-Jewish friend who constantly mispronounces the expressions, adding even more humor to his comments.
Just what were the mistakes made which drove the friends apart? Dick's mistake: He let a sexy, blue-eyed winker threaten his marriage. Jeff's mistake: He turned down a dream job, then later, screamed, "You idiot!" Mel's mistake: He hired a famous money manager, now famous for stealing money. Dick's wife's mistake: She trusted him, then learned of his affair and had one too. So while it seems nobody is perfect, can mistakes be fixed between husbands and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends, fathers and sons?
All of the other background characters are portrayed by three incredible versatile actors (Matt Fowler, Rachel Galper, and Christine Joelle) who morph via incredibly fast costume changes into wives, former younger selves, Canter's wait staff, agents, lovers, and more. While each of these characters add his/her own brand of humor to the story, I especially enjoyed Joelle as Sally the Canter's waitress who shamelessly flirts with Dick, earning her a much-too-generous tip, to which she responds by offering him so "private time" after her shift ends. No doubt Joelle's naturally sexy demeanor would be difficult to turn down, but Dick does, knowing his promise to be faithful to his wife, who seems to see and know everything he does, is more important than another fling which might destroy what he holds most dear.No doubt this world premiere very human comedy will have you laughing, crying, and running to fix that one mistake that's been gnawing at you for years! Just ask any of the actors for ideas on how to get your own life back on track as they shared many lessons learned with me after the performance.
MISTAKES WERE MADE - Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda performances take place Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 3:30 p.m. through the summer. Tickets are $35 or $27 for students, teachers, seniors and the military. Group rates are also available. For tickets and information, call the Santa Monica Playhouse Box Office at (310) 394-9779 ext. 1 or purchase online at SantaMonicaPlayhouse.com/mistakes.html.
Santa Monica Playhouse is located at 1211 4th Street (between Wilshire and Arizona) in the heart of downtown Santa Monica. Convenient Parking is located directly across the street in city lot #1. By public transportation: take the Santa Monica Blue Bus or the LA Metro Rapid #720 and exit at 4th and Wilshire, or take the new Metro Expo line to 4th and Colorado.
Photo credit: Cydne Moore