“A Nice Family Christmas,” now playing at the Group Rep Lonny Chapman, written by Phil Olson and directed by Doug Engalla would be more aptly titled “A Dysfunctional Family Christmas.” This is yet
another wonderful, witty production by the esteemed Group Rep at Noho Arts District.
Written by Phil Olson, who has established himself as a prodigious prolific playwright,
play basically involves a family get together at the holidays with good intentions yet gone awry.
Carl (Greg D. Barnett) is a journalist on verge of being fired and needs a juicy story to survive and keep his job. His own family (much like playwright Neil Simon) is fodder for the juiciest material he can gather.
Michael (Patrick Burke), the favored son, is a successful doctor yet carries his own baggage .
Many levels of sarcastic denigration exist, especially regarding the grandmother, played wonderfully by Marsha Rodd, truly one of the gems of the evening.
She exudes warmth and wittiness through her comments : “Florida is God’s waiting room,” and “I’ve been through all the men there.”
As each member of family arrives another layer unravels like an onion. As each cataclysm occurs we discover this family takes the cake on dysfunction. Each comment is more hilarious than the next.
Other standout caricatures include daughter Stacey (Truett Jean Butler) twice blessed, being gay and expecting; and Uncle Bob (Fox Carney),
a letch seeking good old fashioned Midwestern comfort in the form of a flask of whiskey.
He reminds me of many an American Christmas story characters akin even to Billy Bob Thornton of the Bad Santa franchise.
Almost every holiday stereotype is played to the core, from cookies to carols. Each cast member makes the acting craft look seamless and simple.
through December 18th Fridays and Saturdays 8pm Sundays 2pm
the Group Rep 10900 Burbank Blvd