Pacific Theatre

You Can't Take it With You
by GeorgeS. Kaufman and Ross Hart

Dates and Venue 15 May – 14 June 2008 @ 8pm | Pacific Theatre

Director Ron Reed Stage Manager Lois Dawson Costume Designer Naomi Sider Lighting Designer Lora-Lynne Frewing Sound Designer Clint Lindsey

Reviewer John Jane

t’s no coincidence that Pacific Theatre has its stage in a church basement. Over the last decade or so, it has certainly lived up to its mandate in mounting many thought-provoking and spiritually uplifting productions. Unfortunately, its current presentation, You Can’t Take It With You can hardly claim to be one of them.

That’s not to say that on some level, it is not entertaining and one might even leave the theatre pondering its mawkish message.

George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s depression era play won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1936 and has either delighted or exasperated audiences since. The story centres on Alice Sycamore (played with some guile by Rebecca Branscom), who is the black sheep of her screwball family. She happily conforms to having a conventional job on Wall Street while the rest of her family have left the rat race of depression-hit New York to pursue such seemingly drossy activities as manufacturing fireworks, writing novels or pirouetting around the living-room.

In the meantime, Alice is dating her boss’s son, Tony (John Voth) and despite genuine fondness for her family she is secretly embarrassed by their quirky lifestyle and senses that it will scuttle her relationship with Tony.

Very little happens in the first act, save from character development and setting the scene. In the second act, when Tony deliberately brings his class-conscious, Wall Street parents to Alice’s home on the wrong night, the situation moves into farce territory.

Karl Peterson looked too young to be Alice’s tax-dodging, Grandfather Martin (likewise Matthew Thiessen as her father), though, he did have an excellent grasp of the significance of his lines tying people and events together with his ingratiating charm.

Glen Pinchin and Laureen Smith as Mr. and Mrs. Kirby were the performances that had the best sense of their characters. Pinchin, who was a thirty-year veteran with the RCMP and has turned to acting as a second career was spot-on as a stuffy Wall Street banker.

Thomas Gage offered an energetic and colourful performance as Russian immigrant Kholenkhov, but was perhaps allowed too much freedom, subsequently turning the role into an exaggerated caricature.

Director Ron Reed generally does well with a mostly novice cast, though I would have preferred that he had not interpreted Hart and Kaufman's smart humour as madcap comedy.

© 2008 John Jane