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a Comedy
by Marshall Karp

COMPANY : Centerstage North Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Art Place - Mountain View
ID# 4618

SHOWING : August 08, 2014 - August 16, 2014



This hilarious play pits a father-in-law against a mother in a comedic succession of squabbles. Jerry Sloan is a successful writer of advertising jingles, married to an equally successful lawyer. Living with the happy couple is the not-so-happy Abe Dreyfus, Jerry’s curmudgeon of a father-in-law. Abe is a funny guy to the audience, not to Jerry. The situation is exacerbated when Jerry’s mother Mildred loses her house in a fire and needs a place to stay. Abe and Mildred can’t stand each other. This play is one hilarious confrontation after another until the heart-warming finale in which the oldsters discover that, really, each is not so bad.

Director Kylene Compaan
Abe Dreyfus Lee Buechele
Jerry Sloan Matt Calvo
Mrs. Fisher Laura Dietrich
Hector Lopez Angel Escobedo
Mildred Sloan Marge Krengel
Alice Sloan Jessie Kuipers
Sol Wasserman Greg Smith
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by playgoer
Saturday, August 16, 2014
The comedy "Squabbles" by Marshall Karp doesn’t boast the strongest script in the world, although it does have a lot of funny lines, an interesting blend of characters, and a promising premise: the bickering remaining parents of a newly pregnant couple (the wife’s father and the husband’s mother) are thrown together in a single household. It plays out in somewhat predictable fashion to a sentimental conclusion.

That’s not to say that CenterStage North’s production doesn’t have a lot to recommend it. The elegant black-and-white set put together by director Kylene Compaan is a wow. Her direction is also excellent, with nice blocking that makes use of the full width of the stage and with a flow that hits all the punch lines with just the right emphasis.

The acting is all good, and will likely improve as the run progresses. (I saw the show on opening night.) Lee Buechele has wonderful projection as Abe Dreyfus (the wife’s father), and portrays a consciously cantankerous man with great spirit and energy. Marge Krengel, as his nemesis (the husband’s mother), doesn’t match his levels of projection or energy, making her a little too pleasant for the supposed fireworks to really spark. Jessie Kuipers, as the wife, is absolutely wonderful, and Matt Calvo, as the husband, works with her extremely well. Their joint reactions to their parents’ relationship are priceless.

In smaller roles, we have Angel Escobedo as a bathroom-hogging Puerto Rican jack-of-all-trades, Greg Smith as a card-playing neighbor who makes great coffee, and Laura Dietrich as a stern and humorless nanny. They all play their characters with confidence, adding to the enjoyment of the show as a whole. This is an ensemble that has been whipped into fighting trim by director Kylene Compaan.

Ms. Compaan’s costume design and Brenda Peed’s sound design work well. Brad Rudy’s lighting design is a little too ambitious. Portions of the stage are highlighted during certain scenes, with the lighting level of the overall stage suddenly increasing as someone else is about to enter the room. A light failure scene also rings slightly false, with candles conveniently lit in the background as the electric lights go out. (There’s also a phone call during the blackout, seemingly using the cordless home phone, which wouldn’t work without power.)

Audiences will love "Squabbles." It’s just the sort of relationship comedy that community theatre thrives on and that CenterStage North Theatre specializes in. There’s a lot of pleasure to be had, but nothing indelibly memorable. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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