Transcript: Connie Meng Review aired Monday, June 28, 2004
PROPOSALS is a fairly new play and one I wasn't familiar with. I found myself thinking about half-way through Act I, "Good old Neil Simon - he always comes through." His characters are fully developed, the plot is interesting and of course there's always his humor.
PROPOSALS recalls an early 1950s weekend in the lives of a family at their summer place in the Poconos. Seen through the eyes of the ghost of their housekeeper Clemma, all kinds of proposals resolve the various relationships and family dynamics.
The Depot Theatre, as usual, has come up with an excellent cast. Eric Gratton plays Kenny, the rejected suitor, with a wonderfully petulant air. Carole Healey is very good as Annie, the visiting ex-wife, in what could easily be an unsympathetic role. She manages to convey the true complexity of the character. Tom Treadwell plays her husband Burt with an endearing twinkle in his eye.
As their daughter Josie, Marissa Burgoyne displays all the confusion of a young woman trying to deal with both her present and her past. Rusty Ross plays Ray, her former suitor, with a nice vulnerable quality. There's good chemistry between them and we can see the changing nuances of their relationship.
As Sammi, the budding model, Casey Wilson is a perfect dumb blond and escapes the trap of caricature. She has great body language and a wonderful air of ingenuousness, especially when she compliments Vinnie by saying, "Writers are always thinking; I like that you talk and never think."
Speaking of Vinnie, Tom Bolster is terrific in the role. He manages to make the Miami mobster three dimensional and believable - again, with great body language. His shark story is hilarious, as is his delivery of all his malapropisms. One of my favorites is when he refers to ancient Rome and "a fight between two gladiolas."
Betty Vaughn is outstanding as Clemma, the housekeeper, who guides us with her memories. It's clear that her warmth, sensitivity and even her occasionally sharp tongue have made her an important part of this family. As Lewis, her errant husband, Guiesseppe Jones is equally strong. Their reunion scene is both funny and touching, and is one of the best in the play.
Director Chris Clavelli has encouraged his actors to find the many dimensions of these characters. He also designed the excellent set which makes good use of the small stage.
I've spent most of this review on the actors, partly because they're worth it, but also because that's the focus of the play. PROPOSALS is about people; their changing relationships and their difficulty in coming to terms with reality. If you're looking for an entertaining evening in the theatre that provides not only insights into the human condition but also lots of laughs, here it is.
On a scale of one to five the Depot Theatre production of PROPOSALS gets four and nine-tenths boxcars. For North Country Public Radio, I'm Connie Meng.
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