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Wednesday, 03 December 2014 05:11

Theatre Review - Dysfunctional Family Christmas

Written by Gerie Rhosen - Theatre Reviewer
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The Dysfunctional Family Christmas show now playing at the BrickHouse Theater in NoHo is a hoot! It has silly humor, slapstick action and just the right amount of politically incorrectness to make you smile. Just like the title says, this is about a dysfunctional family gathering at Christmas. What ensues is a circus of over the top silliness mixed with mostly clever jokes, sexual innuendos, and one missing body.

This farce takes place over a 24-hour period of the most cherished and beloved holiday in America, Christmas. It's set in the home of the Logans as they prepare to move to Florida for retirement. However, the best of plans often go awry when someone in the household decides to exit unexpectantly. It is Christmas Eve, and the only thing the parents want is a quiet, memorable time with their adult children. Joanne Logan is the matriarch of the family and she is bent on making this a special occasion one last time. What happens next are several misunderstandings, mistaken identities, and secrets hiding in the hallway closet.

When the eldest daughter Christine arrives home, the parents have to share the sad and secret news with her. They make her part of their hair-brained scheme to keep everything under wraps until Christmas day is over. All the children will be there and nothing must disrupt this eventful time. Christine really doesn’t want to participate in this macabre game, she just wants to tell her parents that she is marrying out of her faith and has brought the lucky guy home to meet them. If he finds out what is REALLY happening, he might change his mind. So she scurries to help her parents in keeping up the rouse so that her love will never suspect the hi-jinks happening under his nose. Enter her brother Adam. He insists on keeping his sexual desires quiet (everyone suspects he’s gay), so he brings home a woman for the first time. Maybe this will quell the family rumors. He is a troublemaker that deflects the attention to others. Lastly, the youngest Braden, apparently the ignored child of the brood, has dreams of being an actor. With a stirring twist of fate, he is able to fool almost everyone there with his rendition of his grandfather in a Santa suit. Now maybe they will listen to him and take him and his acting seriously.

Really now, can anyone take this family gathering seriously? Of course not. It is meant to be ridiculous, funny, and sadly semi-realistic at the same time. Dysfunctional family Christmas hits the mark on all of the above. Everyone has unusual family gatherings where one or more of the relatives seems odd. Everyone dreads coming home at least one year in their life. And everyone usually ends up laughing and hugging with these same family members. That is what happens here.

The acting in this production is very good and the vast experience of the combined cast is obvious. The opening scene is a typical family living room decorated for this festive time of year. Here we observe Dean, played by Paul Thomas Arnold and his wife Joanne, played by Stephanie Jones. Mr. Arnold has a face that you have sworn to have seen before; comfortable, friendly and everyone’s buddy. Ms. Jones is obviously a talent that excels in comedic roles. They are both naturals on stage and have a long history of success in television and feature films. Setting the tone for the entire cast, they flit about the stage with grand gestures that signal the mood of excitement. Other notables are the daughter Christine, played by Ann Tomberlin who is very believable and likeable in her role. She definitely appears at home in front of the audience. The bothersome elder neighbor Abigail Braskett has done theater and soaps before this show. She knows how to play her role without missing a beat. Everyone did a good job. This is a well cast play.

Take your friends and especially family members to this fun filled house for a good respite from holiday crazy. It might make one appreciate their own family in a different way.

Writer/director Paul Anthony Storiale definitely knows how to get the best out of his characters. The script was not too wordy and just the right amount of inflection with each actor.

It is playing now through December 20th. Tickets can be purchased at or BrickHouse Theater, 10950 Peachgrove Street, NoHo 91601.

Read 7329 times Last modified on Wednesday, 03 December 2014 14:08

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