Written and Directed by Gary Lamb
"Somewhere in The Middle" is a story of a family.
A regular, middle American family, blended Jewish and gentile, with a couple of nearly grown kids and a mother - or mother-in-law, depending on what side of the family you are. The eldest daughter is coming home for a visit from college and the place is a buzz with excitement. Even the younger brother is looking forward to it, though for him at least it's more of an excuse to hilariously and ruthlessly comment on the expanding chaos.
Saige Spinney (Lauren), Cynthia Kania (Roz)
What starts out as a funny homecoming drama develops into something far more interesting and challenging over the two acts.
The story begins traditionally enough, who’s picking her up? Did they get the right cereal? Why is everyone so happy…or unhappy? But shortly after the daughter's unexpectedly early arrival, things take a turn.
I don’t want to give too much away, or I will spoil the unravelling, but I can tell you this…often it is our foreboding of a situation that will do all the work of preparing us for the worst of people, all without any expectation of the best of them.
This play covers a lot - religion, race, ageism, sexism and the universal, terrifying rush to judgement of which we are all, at one time or another, equally guilty. I suppose it’s a cross between “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” and “Argo” but without the death threats and the gunfire.
Pictured left to right Adam Simon Krist (Adam), Saige Spinney (Lauren),Richard Van Slyke (David), Luke King (Jamal), Julie Lanctot (Sarah) and Cynthia Kania (Roz)
There has been a great deal of care spent on this first production of this play by Gary Lamb, who also directed it. The performances are clearly very well prepared and perfectly balanced and the actors are all to a fault committed, engaged and very, very good. This is a play with a lot of words, which might sound like a strange observation given that words are usually expected in a play, but what I mean is that the words used are important, very precise and all fraught with meaning. I think the point being made is that there are many, many misconceptions flying around, some of which even the audience are guilty of making, so what is being said must be listened to carefully, by the characters, by the audience, by us all, which is a lesson. These characters, this family, that know each other so deeply are also capable of totally and utterly missing each other's points, almost to the edge of deliberately at times, just like every family I know. They react to each other without truly listening…a bad and potentially destructive habit, and one of which even I am accused, from time to time. But then, aren’t we all?
Here at least, on stage in the lovely Crown City Theatre, there is a safety to these dramatics. It’s just a play, these people are only characters and yet their struggles seem real and truthful and a genuinely intimate and timely mirror to our lives, to our worlds.
If you are expecting some lightweight family comedy then you may well be happily content at first but with the added twist of a serious and contentious argument on the ever expanding platitudes of pseudo education and our own narrow-minded rigidity and the general and habitual testing of our ‘cool'.
I was ready to laugh and indeed I did, a lot. But I was also challenged and forced to re-examine and to mull, for quite some time afterwards in fact, which was nice and surprising. The play echoed quite a bit with me, which is the direct result of the power of not only the fine actors but of the words they spoke. It is all in the writing as they say. In short, I loved it!!
“Somewhere in The Middle” runs
September 2 - October 22
Fridays and Saturdays 8pm, Sundays at 2pm
Crown City Theatre, 11031 Camarillo Street, North Hollywood.
Adam - Adam Simon Krist
Lauren - Sage Spinney
Roz - Cynthia Kania
David - Richard Van Slyke
Sarah - Julie Lanctot
Jamal - Like King
Set/ Prop Designer - Joanne McGee
Costume Design- Amanda Walter
Lighting Design/Stage Manager - Had Potter
Rehearsal Stage Manager - Madison Cole Garfinkle
House Manager - Michael Pammit
Producers - Crown City Theatre
Artistic Directors - Gary Lamb & William A. Reilly