Warning: If you have a problem with calling your siblings in the middle of the night, crying and telling them how much you love them, step away from this play now! Otherwise, grab some tissue and hold on for a ride. Back for a full-length engagement after a trial run in early November, Seatbelts Required follows the story of three sisters who all return home after their mother passes away. Written by Kimberly Demmary and directed by John Barker, 'Seatbelts Required, or The play I wrote to piss off my sisters' stars Elizabeth Kimball, Cynthia Manous, and Chelsea Pitillo. The entire play takes place in the living room of their mother’s home which is set up in the cozy, 40-seat theatre known as the Actors Workout Studio.
The play starts off right after the funeral. Middle sister Agnes (Manous) is in the house packing up her mother’s things. Not too long after, the eldest sister Janet (Kimball) arrives, followed by the youngest sibling, Maggie (Pitillo). Things are a little tense in the beginning with the women each having a different reaction to being in the house for the first time since the death of their mother. The first act is full of light humor and bickering from the sisters with Agnes, in typical middle sister fashion, having to try and keep the peace. Throughout all of the arguing you soon find out that all of the bickering really isn’t all in good fun. The sisters or more like half sisters (their mother got around) do not get along at all. In fact, it seems that Agnes is the only one that isn’t completely absorbed in her own life and at least keeps some form of contact with the other two. Janet and Maggie haven’t spoken in years which becomes obvious when Maggie doesn’t know anything about Janet’s children nor does Janet even try to pretend to even care about what’s happening in Maggie’s life at all. It is clear by the end of the first act that these three sisters were manipulated and put against each other by their late mother.
The second act however, brings about a whole new wave of emotions. Gone is the light quarrelling and out comes the big guns. With the help of a little alcohol, the girls start to open up, spilling deeply hidden secrets that leave you shocked but not completely surprised given their childhood. You are left feeling nothing but heart ache for the sisters and hope that they are finally able to develop that true bond between siblings.
It’s easy to see the chemistry between the three actresses. Kimball, Manous, and Pitillo wrap you into each of their characters lives and their relationships that they have with each other that you can’t help but want to call your siblings and tell them how much you love them…or maybe it will trigger old memories and you end up telling them how much they get on your nerves. Either way, they will definitely be hearing from you.
Seatbelts Required will be playing at the Actors Workout Studio Jan. 6th-Feb. 12, 2012
4735 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91602
(in the NoHo Arts District)
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 2pm
Tickets: $15 general admission; $12 students and seniors. Cash or check accepted
Photo Credit: Brian Graves