Olivia and Gabe are moving into their first apartment together, after what has been a long engagement. They have yet to take the plunge. As we all know, moving is a nightmare, and act one finds poor Olivia, trying get an easy chair through a doorframe that is far too small. Clearly a metaphor for struggles to come, this particular piece is the first they chose together. Their apartment is pleasant, though in a dodgy neighborhood in Chicago, and simply getting the boxes from the moving van is very slow going. Despite vigilant attempts to divert well-meaning (if meddlesome) parents, they show up anyway. When Wyatt and Lydia must climb over the problematic chair to enter the apartment, they hear groaning from the window, mistaking the sound of heavy lifting for lovemaking. Yes, it’s that kind of comedy. Later Lydia keeps tabs while Olivia squats, making sure she doesn’t make contact with a suspicious toilet seat. Hence the title (Things My Mother Taught me) and our reassurance that these good folks are nothing, if not down-to-earth.
The trials that follow are numerous. Somewhere along the way Gabe’s plans to propose are revealed. The van and its contents are stolen. Olivia’s mother Karen is terrified she will rush into marriage, and repeat her same mistakes. The appearance of all four parents makes for some really awkward moments. The men rush out to salvage the truck, the super brings vodka so the three women can sink some healthy shots and hash out some problems. The guys are also allowed some alone time, to comiserate and share. Karen realizes she raised Olivia so well, that all her worrying was for nothing. Gabe learns from Carter and Wyatt that sometimes practicality must take a backseat to romance.
Most of the surprises in Things My Mother Taught Me come from the revelation that Gabe and Olivia have swapped roles with their parents. Karen encourages Olivia to experiment before she settles down, and the dads must tell Gabe there’s more to connubial bliss than acting responsibly. It goes on and on. The women drink like pros, the fathers return from the bar singing Katy Perry’s “I kissed a girl, and I liked it.” All of this to convince the elders possess 21st Century streetcred. Evolved and still vibrant enough to add something to the conversation. It’s warm, appealing and sweet. Maybe with just a push, playwright Katherine di Savino could have come up with something more like Butterflies Are Free or Barefoot in the Park, which has the loopiness, but more beneath the surface. Things My Mother Taught Me is engaging and amusing entertainment.
Rover Dramawerks presents Things My Mother Taught Me playing January 12th-February 4th, 2017.
Tickets are $22.00 Friday and Saturday nights, $16.00 Thursdays and Matinees. 221West Parker Road, Suite 580, Plano, Texas 75023. 972-849-0358. www.roverdramawerks.com
Olivia : Shauna Holloway
Karen : Nancy James Lamb
Carter: David Noel,
Ivy Opdyke : Lydia
Joe Porter : Wyatt
Ben Scheer : Gabe
Martin Sinise : Max
Director: Carol M. Rice
Stage Manager: Darcy Koss
Set Designer: Abby Kipp-Roberts
Costume Designer: Erica Remi Lorca
Sound Designer: Jason Rice
Lighting Designer: Maxim Overton
Properties Designer: Christian M. Burgess
Light and Sound Board Operator: Darcy Koss
Program: Carol Rice
Box Office: Kim Wickware