There are always “dysfunctional family” dramas on stages around town, but finding one with a complicated, engrossing story line, presented with mystery and comedy as well as human drama, is a real treat.
By Carol Edger Germain
And that’s what we got when we saw The Group Rep’s current production, “A Dull Pain Turned Sharp,” written by Brent Beerman and directed by Kay Cole. The play was perfectly cast with actors with great chemistry and comedic timing.
Linda (Barbara Brownell) and Frank (Doug Haverty) are hoping that daughter Julie (Amy Earhart) will marry and give them a grandchild, but Julie’s independence and lack of interest in marriage at the moment seems to be delaying that dream. Meanwhile, Frank buys toys for the imagined grandchild, and Linda discovers, eventually, that she is suffering from an inherited rare disease of the uterus, which could affect Julie and her future child as well. Then into the mix comes Elizabeth (brilliantly played by Janet Wood), an intense and purposeful Hungarian woman, the mother of a high school beau of Julie’s, with a unique request. It is a part that would have been so easy to overplay and become cartoonish but she was the perfect dynamo, and drove much of the mystery, comedy and drama of the play. It turns out Julie’s school friend, Steven, died tragically but mother Elizabeth has his sperm preserved and thinks Julie would make the perfect mother for Stephen’s child. Then in pops another part of the mystery – Dorin (Todd Andrew Ball – another good casting decision), Steven’s devoted life partner (who is not accepted by Elizabeth), and Julie starts reconsidering her initial rejection of the baby idea, seeing a way of perhaps making a number of people happy and bringing them all together.
It may seem I’ve given too many details, but these aren’t really spoilers, just the bare bones of the stories of each character. The way it all comes together through the ups and downs, fears and fearlessness, acceptances and rejections, holds the audience’s interest and keeps them guessing and rooting for all the characters.
J. Kent Inasy (Set & Lighting Design), Diana Martin (Costume Design), and Steve Shaw (Sound Design) all came through with stellar work as well to round out the visual and audio details that fleshed out the performances. An evening well spent!
A Dull Pain Turned Sharp
• Kay Cole Director, Brent Beerman, Author.
Cast: Todd Andrew Ball, Barbara Brownell, Amy Earhart, Doug Haverty, Janet Wood.
Lonny Chapman Theatre
10900 Burbank Boulevard North Hollywood 91601
Free Street Parking on Burbank and neighborhood sidestreets.
• Performances through June 4, 2017
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM; Sunday Matinees at 2:00 PM
• General Admission: $25; Seniors/Students with ID: $20; Groups 10+: $15
Discount tickets available at goldstar.com
• Buy tickets here.
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