Fat Chance Productions
Artistic Director, Robin Whitehouse * Executive Director, Ben Hodges
Monday Morning Productions
Artistic Director, Jason Cicci * Director of Development, Laura Hagan
By ERIC R. PFEFFINGER
Ground Floor Theatre
312 W. 11 St., NYC
Tickets: (212) 352-3101 or www.theatermania.com
October 10 – November 2, 2003
Directed by BEN HODGES
Lighting JULIET CHIA
Sets DAVID ESLER
Sound DENNIS MICHAEL KEEFE
Stage Manager KAREN MUNKEL
Press Representative KAREN GRECO ENTERTAINMENT
George – Brandon Malone
Agatha – Emilie Madison
Ed – Richard Leighton
Nancy – Marilyn Sokol
Dr. Lester Niemark – Jason Cicca
Wes – Ben Hersey
Fat Chance Productions and Monday Morning Productions have joined forces to present the New York City debut of Eric R. Pfeffinger’s comedy, CLOSET CHRONICLES, at the intimate Ground Floor Theatre. With a cast that includes award winning actress Marilyn Sokol, and a plot that begins with a son announcing that he is gay over Thanksgiving dinner, could the laughs be far behind? Yes, and no.
Narrated by a teenaged sibling (Emilie Madison as Agatha), CLOSET CHRONICLES tells the tale of older brother George’s coming out, and the subsequent reaction of his immediate family. In the case of George, he reveals his homosexuality with the standard, "Mom, dad, I’m gay." Pretty to the point, or at least it should be, but then there is the narration. Agatha’s main function here, in addition to rounding out the nuclear family, seems to be to retell some of the pivotal scenes from different perspectives, with different dialogue. The narrative is meant to make the story from her perspective. Okay. Why? Her viewpoint is neither enlightening nor more interesting than that of the audience watching the action unfold. As a device, I found it unnecessary and intrusive. It did not, however, destroy the plot, and there was still a heap of amusement squeezed from this now familiar theme.
Here, the laughs come from the other outings that result from the initial one. The parents, in a series of failed attempts to change their son, understand their son, accept him and bond with him, make silly choices and still sillier comments. In the course of their many attempts to connect we learn of hidden fetishes. As part of CLOSET CHRONICLES we even find a lover hiding in a closet. Yet another outing. We find a "straight" man who really is not hiding in this same closet. We learn that the seemingly apathetic sister has ambitions of her own. Some funny, some not, and some that work, when others do not, these are the major plot points at play.
Aside from the flaws, this mounting of CLOSET CHRONICLES features some very polished details. Ben Hodges’ mindful direction never overlooks the limited performance space. The cozy set, impressively designed by David Esler, makes this same small space feel like a real, lived in, family home. The cast does pretty well too. As the mom and dad, Marilyn Sokol and Richard Leighton get the real gravy as far as good lines and silly situations go. Jason Cicci, as a kooky doctor at a clinic called "Gay-No-More" turns in a brief, but memorable performance. Ben Hersey’s Wes is unlikable in an indeterminate way, but he is supposed to be. Then there are the siblings, perhaps the most restrained and least vocal of all the characters, as portrayed by Brandon Malone and Emilie Madison.
So, a new comedy? Yes. A flawed comedy? Yes. Harmless, escapist diversion? Yes. CLOSET CHRONICLES? In and out of the closet, and here for a limited run.
- Kessa De Santis -