This Week in Theater
“Reasons to Live”
Review by Rose Desena
“Reasons to Live” is a hilarious and entertaining look at a family struggling to come together. I have mentioned more than once that I enjoy watching stories about wacky families. Meryl Cohn (playwright) introduces the audience to a Jewish family from Long Island that hits very close to home, particularly if you’re Jewish, Italian, or for that matter, even Chinese. All of the mentioned ethnicities have most likely experienced the same kind of Mom. Mother’s who want normal successful children that they can brag about and grandkids that they can fuss over. If they are not getting that, they tend to take matters into their own hands by nagging, manipulating, and if all else fails…making them feel guilty.
Andrew (Michael Cotter) lives at home and favors his PJ’s to street clothes (I can relate to that, I love my Joe Boxers). He has discovered an interesting little business that nets him some cash but he needs to keep it on the down low from Mom whom he happens to live with. Mom (Judith Scarpone) is very typical, a bit of a stereotype but true to the character. She is a classic ditz brain with a heart of gold and an unconditional love for her family.
Jane (Jessica Ires Morris) and Emily (Amanda Weier) are Andrews’s sisters. The family, and a few outsiders, are forced to come together for a festive time at Jane’s wedding. Both sisters harbor issues and are not big fans of Mommy, which creates the catalyst for a whole lot of snappy dialog as they come to terms with their emotional turmoil. Aunt Helen is another endearing character, and I love Heather the acupuncturist from Hell, there blindness to the situation is quite funny in itself. What a motley crew!
Director Susan Morgenstern keeps the play moving and the script is laced with some very funny moments. She directs a strong cast, bringing out the best in them. Despite the comedic side of this piece, there is a dark tragedy that plagues this family. What I really like, is the creative way that playwright Meryl Cohn nuances the conflicts into to the story. Excellent character development helps to move the production along seamlessly. All the actors appear to plunge into their role with a hundred percent commitment to their character. It feels like everyone on stage is having a good time. It’s a fun play. The story is easy to follow and the production is quite an enjoyable one. If you’re looking for something to do with the teenagers on a weekend night this would be a good choice, I am sure they will find it meaningful and funny.
“Reasons to Live” is a co-production between The Skylight Theater and the Open Fist Theatre companies. Both have passionate and professional artistic directors, so this marriage of the two companies just may produce many more quality productions in the future.
“Reasons To live”
Written by: Meryl Cohen
Directed by: Susan Morgenstern
Run: 8 pm Friday and Saturdays and 3 pm Sundays, closes Nov 30th
1816 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Tickets and info: (213) 761-7061