The Royal Family
Mad Cow Theatre
By George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber
Directed by Tony Simotes
Starring Rebecca Fisher, Kate Young, Laura Mansoori, and Michael St. John
We say theater is all about the words; and this show is jam packed with words. A century ago theater and its actors stood atop Celebrity Mountain. And in 1928 the Cavendish family stood taller than anyone else with lives confused beyond any mere mortal could capture on a page. Matriarch Fanny Cavendish (Young) isn’t ready to retire, but her heart doctor says otherwise. She’s looking for granddaughter Gwen (Mansoori) to step in the footlights next, but Gwen’s dating the rich and dashing banker Perry (Anthony Pyatt). Their love is strong, but Perry works 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. while Gwen works 8 P.M. to 5 A.M. and that makes dinner hard to pull off. Her mom Julie Cavendish (Fisher) ranks as the current alpha female; she debates remaining stage or running away to East Puckkabrush, Argentina with fabulously wealthy emerald tycoon Gil Martin (Stephen Lima). Tough call, and I’m glossing over the details. There’s a full PHD thesis here just looking at the plot, never mind the text.
But “How did it go?” you may ask. And I say, “thank you for asking.” It went FAST. Everyone talked double time, biting off the lines of whoever spoke last. There’s a good bit of sword play; Julie’s brother Anthony Cavendish (St. John) suddenly appears; he’s on the run from a Hollywood director he attacked and he’s looking for a quick European trip. When he’s not emoting, he’s sword fighting with doorman and family trainer (Zack Roundy) and its not bad fighting. Off on the side we have the déclassé in-laws Herbert and Kitty Dean (Brian Chambers and Marylin McGinnis) plugging projects that will never happen, and as genuine fake snow falls outside the windows the maid and longsuffering house keeper (Kate Thomas-Denson) struggles to feed and please everyone.
There’s a wordy but funny story here, and it not until sat down to type tonight I realized how much action fit into this two-act project. I loved everyone as they competed to out act each other, and the dynamic of a proud family on the edge of a precipice they can’t see adds a touch of impending heartbreak. It’s a wordy show, and one worth talking about.