Monday, 16 December 2013 02:23

Theatre Review - Dysfunctional Family Christmas

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“Dysfunctional Family Christmas” Is A Holiday Treat All Families Should See!”

Pic 001 BK Alex Polyson Rob Schaumann Brian Spengel FR Elyse Ashton Kara  Hume

Located in central North Hollywood, the BrickHouse Theatre has a wonderful treat for the whole family this holiday and it’s called, “Dysfunctional Family Christmas.” Written and directed by the very talented Paul Storiale, it’s the story of a family that discovers that their grandpa is not actually sleeping in his bedroom anymore, but rather he has passed away on Christmas Eve! It is the one Christmas that this entire family of five is getting together for the last time because the house they all grew up in is up for sale and mom and dad are moving out.

The actors in this production are extremely colorful and sharp with their comic timing and the situations, although stretched a tiny bit from reality, this play will keep you laughing all the way through till the end! With the sweet tone of that of a very happy mother at Christmas time (and the ability to panic as the situation gets worse and worse), Elyse Ashton as mom is so amazing with her frantic panics that you will laugh at her anticipation of everything going all wrong. As the family gathers one by one, it’s Rob Schaumann as the father of the house who tries to keep everything centered while he is dealing with his wife’s crazy scheme of moving the body of his deceased father. Both Elyse and Rob have such great comic chemistry together that their reactions are so real that you’ll believe they're your parents.

Alex Polcyn plays the oldest son Adam who is obviously having a ball playing a son who is trying to come off as straight in his sexuality because his entire family thinks he’s gay. However his colorful physicality allows Alex to play it to the hilt - from the slapstickish moves he makes to his wonderful banters with his brother and his sister. Alex will just keep you laughing out loud. I even loved watching his energy motivate the other characters into a frenzy.

Adam’s sister Christine is very honestly played by Kara Hume and she has an amazing ability to switch from extreme sensitivity with her new fiancé (who’s Jewish and the family doesn’t know she’s converting), to wildly crazy because she too discovered her grandfather has passed and the body is still around the house. Watching Kara and Alex as siblings argue brought back many fond (and some not so fond) memories of my family life and had me smiling from cheek-to-cheek with the rather physical and verbal ‘catfights’ they have with each other.

The youngest child, Braden, is perfectly portrayed by Brian Spengel who has the sad existence of being the son everyone forgets, doesn’t notice or outwardly they don't even notice he’s in the room. Brian does a wonderful job of showing his frustration at his family, his confusion at his parents, and the fact that he also discovers his grandfather has passed. He also happens to be an aspiring actor with an announcement to make (that never gets made) that should surprise his entire family.

Christine’s fiancé, Thomas, who is Jewish and about to convert their daughter, is hysterically performed by Matthew Clay. Matthew took his character and really made it sharp and fun and when he is also tricked into playing Santa Clause, you are going to see the most hysterical Jewish accented Santa you’ll ever see. His chemistry with the whole family and his ‘fish out of water’ position will make you bust a button or two because you’re laughing so hard.

Sara Swain gets to play Adam’s fake girlfriend and she, as a performer, takes it to the edge. Sara will have you laughing at her ditsy characterization and her really over-energized sex drive. There is even a point where you will catch yourself laughing at something you probably thought you’d never catch yourself laughing at because of Sara!

Now, you have the family with the parents, siblings, fiancé and the out of place, sex-driven ‘girlfriend’, and let's throw in the nosey, often intrusive and extremely curious neighbor named Mrs. Braskett and you have the amazing performance of Barbera Howard. Again, Barbera is having so much fun with this role that her intrusions are eventually something you will, as an audience, look forward to seeing. Her comic timing and physical nature will just keep you tearing up with laughter. So much fun!

There isn’t a moment where something crazy isn’t going on and the situations get more mixed and funnier as the play progresses. Holiday themed with a marvelous sense of pure fun and real comedy, “Dysfunctional Family Christmas” is a pure delight to see this holiday season. This reminded me of watching an old sitcom where all the characters are actually contributing to the problem instead of helping it. The BrickHouse Theatre and director Paul Storiale have a wonderful show for all the family to see and these ‘dysfunctional’ characters might definitely remind you, just a tiny bit, of your own family too! Check them out on

Pic 001 BK Alex Polyson, Rob Schaumann, Brian Spengel FR Elyse Ashton, Kara Hume

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Lorenzo Marchessi

Based in Southern California, not far from Downtown Hollywood - Lorenzo Marchessi. has always enjoyed movies, music and theatre first hand. Currently living in the San Fernando Valley Area called the ‘No Ho Arts District properly’ (Originally from Chicago!) – More than fond of Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Dramas, Animation, Independent Films and of course Comedies. I like the short film and the long film (as long as their good!) I saw my first film at the age of six - HELLO DOLLY and I saw LOGAN'S RUN ten times in the theatre! Having actually worked in the production of Film, TV, Radio and live Theatre I can always understand the work that goes into creating ANY Movie, Television Show, Theatre Production, DVD, CD's and even Live Concerts. I love to write and been doing it for decades - literally! I always appreciate any feedback or comments! P.S. My all-time favorite film is ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE along with THE LITTLE MERMAID and THE DESCENDANTS, my favorite TV series of all-time is STAR TREK as well as FRINGE and THE BIG BANG THEORY, my favorite performing artist of all-time is BARRY MANILOW, my favorite actor of all time MR. JACK LEMON and my favorite theatrical productions to date is WICKED and THE PRODUCERS. Contact: Lorenzo M. at !

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