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Never Too Late
a Comedy
by Sumner Arthur Long

COMPANY : Players Guild @ Sugar Hill [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Eagle Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 5526

SHOWING : June 14, 2019 - June 23, 2019



This Broadway hit is about a married man in his fifties who suddenly learns he’s becoming a father again. His last child, a girl, was born 24 years ago. Considering the boob she married, he finds the prospect of another unthinkable. His daughter and son-in-law live with him; she gets up for breakfast at lunchtime and he is curiously addicted to solitaire. It’s not only the impending birth that startles him; his previously meek little wife begins to lay down the law. There’s to be a nursery, a new bath, and she’s to have her own checking account. Such dour capitulation you’ll never see again.

Harry Lambert Joseph McLaughlin
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Edith and Archie ... whoops, Harry!
by playgoer
Saturday, June 29, 2019
"Never Too Late" is being advertised by the Players Guild @ Sugar Hill as the inspiration for TV’s "All in the Family." There’s certainly some similarity in the core cast -- a curmudgeonly husband, a put-upon wife, a live-at-home married daughter, and a ne’er-do-well son-in-law. The family conditions are different, though: the husband runs a successful lumberyard in a two-lumberyard town; the wife is newly pregnant, requiring the daughter to take over her household duties; and the son-in-law is an unappreciated employee of his father-in-law’s. There’s definitely a 1962 feel to the script, with a housewife suddenly discovering she can write checks, and not just rely on her husband’s weekly household allowance. Don’t expect edgy political debates, or anything very topical at all until the end, when a veiled allusion to JFK occurs.

The production in Sugar Hill boasts a set designed by Terry Mulligan and Tom Heagy and dressed by Ane Mulligan. There’s a window down right, the front door to the house to its left, a staircase up center left with a landing at center and a closet below, and a passageway up left leading to the unseen kitchen. A chair rail around the room is topped with a wallpaper border, in a design choice that seems to have little to do with the time period of the play. For furnishings, we have a sofa, a couple of upholstered chairs, a record player, and a small dining set. Special props of a toilet and a bathtub make an appearance too. Costumes aren’t always well-fitting, but give a feel for each person’s station in life.

Director Alan Hyma has assembled a fine group of actors to bring the play to (dated) life. Joe McLaughlin and Karin Goss are confident and consistent in their roles as the husband and wife, mining the comedy present in the script. Alyssa Brooke is a delight as the daughter, and Michael Crocker brings wonderful physical comedy to his role as the son-in-law. Next-door neighbor Mayor Crane is played with assurance by the golden-voiced Paul Ryden, and John Byers invests a contractor and a policeman with authority. John Zimmermann is perhaps too young for his role as Dr. Kimbrough, and Windi Key doesn’t always have sufficient volume as his wife, but they fill their roles ably.

Mr. Hyma’s blocking keeps the show active, starting with Mr. McLaughlin running around the room a few times before having his pulse checked. This is the kind of show that requires momentum to carry the audience through, and it certainly has that in the speech and performances of the actors. There are often tiny pauses between lines, though, that slow the momentum a bit. With a breakneck pace, the show could become a laugh-riot. As it is, it’s a pleasant comedy harkening back to yesteryear.


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