LAST CALL by Carol Kaufman Segal
Last Call is a semi-autobiographical play by Anne Kennedy making its world premiere at Atwater Village Theatre. Kennedy has spent many years writing and producing works for television. She explains, in the Program Notes, how she came to turn to playwriting, basically due to the loss of both of her parents within two months.
In this day and age, with people living into their 80’s, 90’s and even past 100, it is not unusual to find families burdened with problems when they are no longer able to care for themselves, but not willing to give up their independence. This is the basis of Kennedy’s play directed by Lane Allison.
Jill (Laura Richardson), a TV writer in Los Angeles (we learn later she has recently been fired) has come to visit her elderly parents in Ohio, essentially to make arrangements to move them into an assisted living facility. Jill’s father, Walter (Ben Martin), has a problem with walking and has been diagnosed with cancer, while her mother, Frances (Lynn Milgrim), has developed dementia.
Jill’s brother, Ricky (Art Hall), who has problems of his own, is back living in his parent’s home after being released from rehab (again). To add more intrigue to his situation, 16-year old Jade (Bronte Scoggins), who he met in rehab and is pregnant, shows up at the house.
Walter is made aware of Jill’s plans for him and Frances when Annette (Stephanie Crothers), who represents the assisted living home, shows up to talk to them about moving into a place where they will be taken care of for the rest of their lives. Walter makes it very clear to everyone in the family that he has no intention for him and Frances to ever leave their home. He shocks everyone by telling them that he and Frances have agreed to commit suicide!
How will the family’s dilemma ever become solved? Throughout the play, it appears that there is no warmth or love between the members of this dysfunctional family, but there is more love between them that comes out at special moments throughout the play between the aging parents, between the brother and sister, and at the climactic end.
Last Call is a very well written play with a fine cast, but due to the seriousness of its subject, it is not intended to simply be entertaining, but thought provoking. It is playing Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM, through Feb. 23, at the Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater Village. There will be one Sunday evening performance at 7 PM on Feb 17. Tickets are available by calling (323) 882-6912, or on line at www.opennfist.org.