FAMILY ONLY by Carol Kaufman Segal
The world premiere of Family Only, playing at Theatre West, was written by Daniel Vinyard who is a member of Theatre West, and a prolific playwright. This is another play about a dysfunctional family, but one that can really get “under one’s skin.” With all of their “kvetching” (complaining), I almost wanted to walk up on the stage and chastise some of the members of this outrages family! But fortunately, this is a comedy/drama and is not to be taken seriously.
Will (Frank Gangarossa) and Nicole (Riley Rae Baker) are a young couple who have worked hard and are proud and happy to have purchased their first home in an upscale neighborhood south of Ventura Blvd., in Sherman Oaks. So what if it is a fixer-upper? It boasts three bedrooms and a beautiful backyard with a lovely swimming pool (great looking backyard, set by Jeff G. Rack).
Wanting to share their happiness, and for a chance to show them their new home, Will and Nicole invited family members to a housewarming party. The arrivals included Will’s dad Walter (Roger Kent Cruz). Walter is a fantasist, not the most devoted worker, and always looking for ways to get rich quick and still looking; Brenda (Sheila Shaw), Will’s stepmother who understands Walter and puts up with a lot from him, but loves him nevertheless; Will’s half-sister Andrea (Ann Leyden) recently divorced and about to be evicted from her home, and her young, spoiled daughter Chloe (never seen on stage); and last but not least is Will’s grandmother Amanda (Dianne Travis), a woman who brusquely speaks her mind.
As the day wears on, instead of showing pride for the accomplishments that Will has made with his job and his life, these family members show more concern for their own roblems and expect him to grant them help to solve them. Dad looks for money to back one of his fly-by-night ideas. Andrea doesn’t know why Will can’t offer her a place to stay with Chloe since he has a three bedroom home and he and Nicky have no children of their own. Before the day is over, no one gets along with anyone, and one by one, they decide to leave. Will this be the end of a family relationship?
Arden Teresa Lewis directs the well-honed cast in Family Only playing Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM, through March 19, at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West in Los Angeles. Tickets are available online at www.theatrewest.org, or by phone at (323) 851-7977.