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'Things My Mother Taught Me' offers lessons in love

April 6, 2016
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Bangor Community Theatre's latest a sweet, breezy comedy

BANGOR One of Bangor's most venerable theatrical institutions has found a new home.

Bangor Community Theatre recently went through a stretch without a stage to call their own. However, thanks to a new relationship with the Bangor Grange, BCT is back in business.

Their latest production is Katherine DiSavino's 'Things My Mother Taught Me.' Directed by Jennifer Snow, the show is running through April 10 at the Bangor Grange Hall on Ohio Street. It's a story of love both romantic and familialand all the issues that love can bring.

Gabriel (Padraic Harrison) and Olivia (Sabrina Wirey) have just made the move from New York City to Chicago. They've already hit their first speed bump their brand-new chair (their first purchase as a couple) has gotten portentously wedged in the front door of their apartment and their cheerful building super Max (Mimi Sorg) isn't all that concerned about helping them fix it.

It turns out that's just the beginning for the young couple when their parents both sets show up to help with the move. Gabe's mother Lydia (Alison Cox) is a bit demanding and exacting in her standards, while his father Wyatt (Jerry Lyden) exudes the rough-and-ready wisdom of a man who has long since determined that he loves his wife, quirks and all. Meanwhile, Olivia's strained relationship with her mother Karen (Stacy Laflin) might not be helped much by this surprise appearance, though her amiable father Carter (Kevin Michalik) does his part in hopes of keeping the peace.

It turns out that Gabriel had some big plans for this night plans that get utterly disrupted, both by the parents and by forces beyond his control. What follows is an effort by both families to come together and sort out their issues in time to help Gabriel and Olivia continue forward on their own journey.

'Things My Mother Taught Me' isn't about the narrative. Obviously, a story is being told, but this play is really built around the characters that populate it. The attitude and energy of the ensemble are paramount a truth that this group seems to understand.

Central to the show are Gabe and Olivia. Their relationship is what buoys the rest of the show. Harrison and Wirey both bring a great deal of energy to their performances, though each channels that energy in slightly different directions. That energy belies the ease with which they interact, even at their most frenetic; the two of them together have an appealingly gentle chemistry.

Cox and Lyden bring their own delightful dynamic to bear. Cox manages to make Lydia a constant source of unwanted advice while still avoiding coming off as a nag it's a pretty impressive feat. And Lyden gives Wyatt a distinctive voice, portraying a man whose love for his family means that he's comfortable with the unlikelihood of them really changing. Laflin and Michalik are too uptight and too laid-back, respectively; their mannerisms are wonderfully illustrative of their relationship with their daughter. And Sorg plays the amiable and foreign-but-not-really Max with plenty of Polish gusto.

This is a fun and funny bit of romantic comedy. The majority of the jokes land (not to give too much away, but the drunk dads are a highlight) and the relationships at its center are well-rendered by the cast. Director Snow has really very much captured the spirit of the thing, allowing the piece to simply be what it is breezy and sweet. It's lightweight, but no less entertaining because of that.

Look, 'Things My Mother Taught Me' isn't Chekhov. It isn't particularly sophisticated or emotionally complex. And honestly that's OK. Sometimes, it's nice to go to the theater and watch something sweet and fun and frothy. Sometimes, it's just nice to share in some laughter and love things that BCT shares generously and with great joy.

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 April 2016 15:11

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