By Sarah Downs
Have you ever gotten on the phone only to have a family member choose that exact moment to start a conversation with you? If it weren’t so annoying it would be funny. Everything is Super Great has turned that unfortunate parallel around. In the story of Tommy (Will Sarratt) and his mother Anne (Marcia Debonis) if said interruptions weren’t so funny, they would be annoying.
Tommy lives with his mother. After a particularly spectacular departure from his job at Applebee’s, Tommy has landed at Starbucks, where he has a crush on his cute manager Alice (Lisa Jill Anderson). Alice has a lot on her plate and doesn’t really have time for Tommy’s sweetly clumsy attempts to get to know her. When not at work, Tommy retreats to his bedroom, trying to deal with the disappearance of his brother, who has been missing for months. Anne tries to communicate with Tommy, with little success. A firm believer in the Power of the Pop Tart, the toasting of which she has elevated to an art form, she relentlessly offers them, hoping to lure him away from the computer screen. Enter Dave (Xavier Rodney), who attempts to draw out Tommy’s emotions with bumbling attempts at Art Therapy. Eureka! Or is it?
Sarratt is excellent as Tommy — youthful, kind hearted, bewildered by the inexplicable departure of his brother. Debonis shines as lonely and loving, rather odd mother. She has excellent comic timing and even at her most quirky she makes total sense. As the love interest Alice, Anderson proves both appealing and seditious. You can well understand Tommy’s attraction. And then there’s Dave. Poor Dave. He really tries. Rodney blazes his way through this character like a somewhat unhinged Tazmanian Devil. It’s great fun to watch.
One highlight of the production is the exceedingly clever set design. The theater is tiny, necessitating a one room set, and a small room at that. Designer Brian Dudkiewicz has hit upon a marvelous way of invoking the different locations of the various scenes. No, I’m not giving it away. Just remember to watch the walls.
Because the theater is so tiny, there are many lights up/lights down moments for the scene changes. This grows a bit tiresome, as it interrupts the flow of the narrative. I began to lose track a little of the where and the when. The seats were also rather uncomfortable. I’m sure these issues are easily solved by even a slightly larger stage, maybe using more than one room?
In his writing, Stephen Brown strikes just the right balance between comedy and tragedy. Loss overshadows this family’s story; indeed, it lurks around the corner in everyone’s story. Herein lies the charm of this little play. We all can relate. It’s such a relief to laugh at the dysfunction that characterizes so many family relationships. With both humor and insight into human nature, Everything is Super Great manages to be sweet without being insipid, a refreshing departure from the usual Holiday fare.
Everything is Super Great, written by Stephen Brown and directed by Sarah Norris. Brian Dudkiewicz (scenic design); Elaine Wong (lighting design); Mari Taylor (costume design); Janet Bentley (sound design); and Sarah George (prop design).
Produced by New Light Theater Project and Stable Cable Lab Co. in a co-world premiere in conjunction with Theatre Lab FAU. At 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th St., between Madison and Park Aves.)
Performances November 22 through December 14. Performance schedule is Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; matinees at 2:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Please note, there are no performances on November 27 and 28, and no matinee on December 7. Single tickets are $25 For Tickets click HERE, visit www.59e59.org or call the Box Office at 646-892-7999.
Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission.