April, May, and June Review - Appearances Can be Deceiving

In case you wondered, APRIL, MAY, AND JUNE is not about three spring months. These are the names of a trio of sisters who have assembled to pack up their mother’s house after her death.  Multi-talented playwright Gary Goldstein was inspired by something most of us have experienced – how family members may remember past events and people years later. And how these recollections may be very different, even for the same moments in time. Even more striking is when these family members are sisters separated by only a year in age – and the three unique reminiscences which emerge.

April (Jennifer Lee Laks), May (Jennifer Taub), and June (Meredith Thomas) can’t help but become a little nostalgic as they go through their late mother’s cherished things. Each is firmly convinced that their mother preferred another sister, and that she was an add-on. May is certain that she suffers from “middle child” syndrome, while April laments that she was the oldest and never felt really close to her mother. Meanwhile, June, the youngest, can’t help thanking her mother for letting her be herself while she danced to her own drummer. First-born April is clearly the dominant sister, and yet her marriage has crumbled. Youngest June is a lesbian who has just broken up with her straying partner. Only May remains happily married – even if a bit plump compared to her slender, stylish sisters.

Anyone who has disassembled the life’s collections of a close relative knows the feeling – a little guilt for “intruding” on their loved one’s privacy – and a little sadness that this is all that that was left behind. The sisters agree that their mother, saddled with an alcoholic and often absent husband/father, was a proper, staid, passive, and even mediocre women. And then the secrets that their mother carefully hid from them as they were growing up begin to pop out. To their confusion, fascination, and horror.

Director Terri Hanauer has done an excellent job of helming this family drama while slipping effortlessly between comedy and tragedy – and everywhere in between. Award-winning Hanauer’s directorial skills have extended to both screen and stage and come full flower to APRIL, MAY, AND JUNE. The skilled actors portraying the three sisters draw the audience in as they build a family constellation which may seem all too familiar to many. The audience has become “a fly on the wall,” left to make any and all interpretations for themselves.

Jeff G. Rack’s set design, Michele Young’s costumes, Ric Zimmerman’s lighting, and Joseph Slawinski’s sound all combine to offer just the right environment for a stolidly middle class family. It would appear that the entire production team is also very energetic, in that they must recreate the set every show after the actors have done their best to pull it apart.

Playwright Gary Goldstein, Jennifer Lee Laks as April, Jennifer Taub as May, Artistic Director David Hunt Stafford, and Meredith Thomas as June at the After-Party - Photo by Elaine L. Mura

APRIL, MAY, AND JUNE is an insightful and clever exploration of the inner workings of a family which appears completely average and even dull to the outsider. The production also does a great job of making this family seem almost familiar. Anyone who enjoys family tales will find this a fascinating study.

APRIL, MAY, AND JUNE runs through April 16, 2017, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays to Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Reuben Cordova Theatre is located at 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Tickets are $30. For information and reservations, call 310-364-0535 or go online.              

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