The first of the stories is about Nina aptly played by Cindy Marinangel as she talks to her ever seeing but obviously ill grandmother.
Flat and the Round gives us a further sense of Nina as she and her sister in law, Sara ( Elizabeth Foley) trade barbs and information about Sara’s husband/Nina’s brother, Martin as they pack up the possessions of their now dead step grandfather.
In Place Cards at Twenty Paces, we see Nina interactions with her cousin Beth – charmingly portrayed by Louise Davis, who is also one of the producers. Not having gotten along in the recent memory, Nina and Beth each try to out do the other in their placement near the matriarch for the holiday dinner.
Myth Making shows us more history of the Strauss family as Martin ( Brian Gleason) and Allan ( Aaron Henley) get together with their wives Sara and Liz ( Monica Horan) as they run through what was and was not the real past of their grandfather. Allan, all the while trying to enlist Martin’s help in conning their grandmother.
None of the children, it seems, feel they can function without their grandmother’s financial support and despite their education each are self protective and caustic as they try to disconnect from their various cousins.
The Use of Children shows Beth with young Regina’s ( Lily Rosenthal) as the former tries to encourage, coerce and then threaten the young girl to have a play date with Annie, Beth’s overweight, awkward daughter.
The last skit, The Children’s Table, is a throw back to the cousins twenty years before when they used to sit at the children’s table as they each tried to best one another.
The author, while using some of his own familiar experiences, also spoke to many in the audience who recognized themselves as the alienated Nina or the possessive Beth or the unsure Allan. Many could easily recall their own matriarchal holiday dinners where rules of the family took precedence over polite society.
Each of the sketches was individually and aptly directed by Kara Pulcino (Nina, Place Cards, Use of Children) and Jack Heller (Flat and Round; Myth Making), and Christina Hart.
Set designer Jill Young gave an authentic feel to the old fashioned stuffiness of the matriarch’s living quarters while producers Christina Hart and Louise Davis organized much of the story structure. Music by Michael Andres set the mood as did stage manager, James Ledezma.
Presented by the Laurelgrove Theatre Company, the play is now being shown at the Hollywood Court Theater , 6817 Franklin Ave, Hollywood (inside the big church on Franklin and Highland.) Having opened on October 24th, the play runs through November 23rd and is seen Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. Admission is $20. Reservations can be made with house manager Portia Doubleday at 3232 664 9752