by Meghan D'Souza
Lisbon - The Mount Vernon Lisbon Community Theatre invited audience members to join them in the elaborately decorated 1930s Brooklyn home of Martin Vanderhof for a lesson about what is really important in life, shown to us in a most zany way. Their production of You Can't Take It With You provides an enjoyable evening.
This group of actors was able to take "zany" and not go too far with it. Each character had his and her own quirks, and everyone in the play embraced them without turning the performance into a corny show. For instance, grown and married daughter Essie, played by Tawnua Tenley, is certain she is destined to be a ballet dancer. Because of this, she is constantly dancing and spinning around the house. The closest she gets to a walk is a dancer-like glide across the stage. She can even be found practicing on the furniture. As an actress, Tenley does a fabulous job taking on this role and maintaining it throughout the play.
As the other daughter, Alice, who fits more in society's norms, Andrea Hallier found the fine line between showing great love for her family while also wishing they were less odd without ever seeming resentful about their behaviors, except when the play called for such behavior. The message of love and acceptance overriding materials and denial came across very well, in part due to Hallier's fine performance.
Along with truly becoming their characters, the actors did a fantastic job of exuding their familial relationship. I would venture to guess they grew close in the creation of the play, because watching them on stage truly seemed like watching a family who simply understands and loves each other in spite of, or perhaps because of their quirks.
This play was refreshing with the route the director Grant Freeman chose to take. The audience is treated to a performance by actors who truly become their characters. Had the wrong turns been taken, this could easily have become slapstick with overacting performers. It is a comedy with a heartwarming lesson. This group carried it out beautifully.
There is one more performance this evening at 7:30 at Lisbon Community School. Tickets available at Shepley Pharmacy, Lisbon Library, or at the door.