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“Reasons To Live” at the Skylight Theatre Review – Dramedy at its best

By Ester Benjamin Shifren

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In the opening scene of Meryl Cohn's comedy-drama “Reasons to Live,” Jane (Jessica Ires Morris), is dressing for her wedding at the home of her nutsy, over-the-top, controlling mother, Stella (Judith Scarpone). Jane, once a child star and now a psychologist, struggles with a persistent gloom that deepens when she discovers she’s been jilted a few hours before the marriage ceremony. As the story unfolds we discover that her depression is triggered by a devastating life-changing incident that has rendered her inconsolable.




Stella, glamorously attired in a blue velvet Chinese gown, insists that the party should still take place. She intentionally fails to notify family members, due to arrive shortly, that the wedding is off. Jane’s brother, Andrew (Michael Cotter), lives in an upstairs room where he conducts some obscure business transactions. He is perpetually in pajamas. Andrew is racked with guilt over the same tragic incident that is the cause of Jane’s deep depression, and suicidal tendencies.

 In due course, the wacky clan arrives—Andrew’s lesbian twin-sister Emily (Amanda Weier), with her new-agey, effusive girlfriend, Heather (Jordana Berliner), and colorful Aunt Helen (Katherine Griffith), who loves her booze. It transpires she’s not the only one in the family who imbibes— other family members are in varying stages of recovery from their own addiction!




The family may just find the meaning they’ve been desperately seeking when a surprise arrival in a basket throws everyone further off-balance!

The presence of Tara (Jennifer Schoch), a newcomer to the scene, is due to her being a “client” of Andrew’s obscure home-industry. Andrew develops a love interest in the lovely lass—and the plot thickens, with twists and turns you could not easily envisage. Stella welcomes Tara, as she does Emily, with open arms. There are some unexpected dance and show tune routines, enthusiastically led by Stella, who insists on participation by all, except boozy Aunt Helen who is draped over the furniture in various stages of inebriation.




Funny, clever quips—mostly with a Jewish theme, help alleviate the build-up of stress and tension from a subject that deals with tragedy. Fortunately, the story never lingers too long on that aspect, and makes it easier on the viewer by cleverly switching back and forth to lighter hearted scenes before returning to the heavier subject matter.




This is really dramedy—Meryl Cohn’s writing has brilliantly captured the essence of family glue, and Director Susan Morgenstern has expertly kept the pace fast. The superb cast never lets writer or director down. Stage, lighting, and costume designers all need special mention for their excellent contribution to the overall success of the production. Judith Scarpone is outstanding in her role as Stella, the offbeat, “rallying the troops” mom.

Chosen by the press as a “Favorite Play of 2012” when first presented at Provincetown Theater, “Reasons to Live,” is a thought-provoking comedy/drama on overcoming adversity, and truly an entertaining experience.



Show Dates
Performances from 25 Oct 2014
Closing 30 Nov 2014

Performance Schedule: Fridays-Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm

Pricing: $30
Box Office reservations: 213-761-7061
Theatre Information:
Skylight Theatre

at 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Genre: Comedy

Cast List: Jordana Berliner, Michael Cotter, Katherine Griffith, Jessica Ires Morris, Judith Scarpone, Jennifer Schoch, Amanda Weier

Production Credits:
Written by Meryl Cohn

Directed by Susan Morgenstern
Other Credits: Produced by Skylight Theatre Company and Open Fist Theatre Company

PRODUCTION TEAM: Set and Light design by Jeff McLaughlin, Sound design Peter Carlstedt, Costumes design Sofia Radin, Stage Manager Christopher Hoffman, Property Managesrs Bruce Dickinson and Ina Shumaker

Show Run Time: 1 ½ hours


Published on Nov 07, 2014

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