Saturday night I went to see the play Squabbles, put on by the Manistee Civic Players at the Ramsdell.
Squabbles is a comedy by Marshall Karp, written in 1983 (took some looking to find that out!). It's a comedy based on the difficulties of a couple whose in-laws are difficult.
First, the stage. I love how plays just draw you into a box of a different reality!
The action all occurs in the home of Jerry and Alice Sloan. Jerry writes advertising jingles and Alice is a lawyer. Alice's father, Abe, lives with them in the spare room. Abe's favorite sport is arguing (and answering the phone as if he's a radio station giving away raffle tickets). Although Jerry admits he likes Abe, the couple is tired of the constant squabbles.
Then, Alice finds out she's pregnant. The couple is thrilled, since they aren't getting any younger. But Dad will have to move to the smaller spare room.
Then, Jerry's mother, Mildred, calls. Her house has just burned to the ground, and she has no where to live. Of course, she'll come stay with Alice and Jerry, and of course, she and Abe can't stand each other.
Act Two- seven months later. A very nearly due Alice is trying to talk her dad into taking a furnished apartment they've rented. One of the in-laws has to leave so there is a room for the baby. Abe is having none of it.
But then, Alice goes into labor three weeks early, and a huge snowstorm descends on the East. While the couple is gone to the hospital, the lights go out, leaving Abe and Mildred alone in the dark house. I won't tell you any more.
There is a funny sub-plot with the handyman, Hector, who is always using the bathroom on Jerry's time. I guess he's not even in the picture I chose to show.
I have one more shot of the nurse, Mrs. Fisher, and the neighbor Sol. Just had to show you Mrs. Fisher. She was hilarious.
Comedy is tough to act. So much depends on timing. This cast, at least for this performance, was a little slow. Still, it's a funny play. The audience... mostly my age-ish... laughed a lot. It's full of situations and lines that everyone with extended family will relate to.
The set was terrific! It gave a lot of options for putting people on different levels. Although that is really a small stage for large productions, I think I would have made the set a bit narrower side to side to make the room more intimate. Some of the scenes with such a small cast were too spread out.
There was good chemistry between all the actors except maybe Jerry and Alice who didn't seem very believable as a couple.
Some extraneous swearing could be removed from this play to make it even more family friendly. It wasn't germane to the plot.
The plot is predictable, but still funny. All in all, another play I'm glad I attended. Recommended if you just want a relaxing evening with a few chuckles.
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