Review by Rose Desena
A seasoned cast brings to life a story about the struggles of caring for a stubborn aging parent, who needs care. The question of a nursing homes and the impact on the siblings that are saddled with the task is the focus of “A Heap of Livin”.
Ramblin Harry (Lawrence Pressman) is a happy, old hippie, who spent most of his life rambling on the road with a guitar, hanging out with the Mamas and Papas and going from music fests to protest events. Now experiencing the limitations of old age he is constantly mothered by his over bearing daughter Pearl (Didi Conn).
She means well but she has makes the job hard on herself and the resentment towards the other sister is mounting. I couldn’t help but ask if the resentment was just about caring for her father or was it much deeper. I have a high regard for a play that makes me question some of the plot so early on.
Pressman is endearing as Harry, the semi-retired folk singer, who hangs on to what’s left of his professional life as if it was a life jacket. Who can blame him? What’s wrong with living the last few years doing a few gigs, and reminiscing about the good the old’ days in the hills of Topanga? He also likes to extort money from the other sister Eden and give it away to his favorite charities. A person has to hang on to their principals even though they’re old. Right? I love this guy! He is adorable.
Eden (Jayne Brook) is very convincing as the sophisticated New York sister who has escaped the day-to-day task of caring for Harry and maybe her old life of the daughter of a rebel by being the deep pocket sort of financial support for her father. Self-absorbed in her intellectual and conservative life she fails to see her sister’s anger.
Both sisters have issues. Like who doesn’t? A father, who was never around, and a mother, who was more involved with a cause than her own responsibilities, makes the top of the “issue list”. They finally get to spend some much needed time together when Pearl delivers Harry to Eden’s apartment and has decided he should stay there for a while.
This dynamic threesome sets up just the right amount of tension and Ping-Pong their dialog swiftly and expertly moving the story along at a good pace. Elliot Shoenman (Playwright) hits this topic head on and adds a nice freshness to a tale that has been done, but in today’s society of living longer, it can’t be forgotten. The use of the fourth character Rachel (Salli Saffioti) is brilliant. She rocks the part. I couldn’t help questioning the writers hidden message, and it creates an interesting dynamic to the play.
“A Heap of Livin” is a well-staged winner and very enjoyable particularly for us baby boomers who just might be dealing with these very issues.
Written by Elliot Shoenman
Directed by Mark L. Taylor
Presented by the Inkwell Theater
Cast- Jayne Brook, Didi Conn, Lawrence Pressman, Salli Saffioti.
8 pm Thursday- Saturday and 2 pm on Sunday. Ends March 17th $25
Inexpensive parking in the front and a good snack bar with wine in the lobby makes the Odyssey a great pick for a night out at the theater.
2955 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles Ca. 90025.
Reservations 310 477 2055 or