Premiere provides ”Domestic” bliss
Written by: Ruby Nancy – Quad City Times
Jay Berkow, producing artistic director for the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, says the Showboat’s latest comedy, “Domestic Tranquility” is about a “perfect ’50s family, who reside in a perfect ’50s suburb and live a perfect ’50s life” at least until they are “held hostage for three days by escaped convicts with no table manners.”
And it is.
Off-Broadway playwright Richard Orloff (who wrote “Damaged Goods”) recently showcased his latest comedy in a workshop production at the Key West Theatre Festival, and the first full production of “Tranquility” a rollicking, laugh-aloud success made its world premiere in Clinton last weekend. Fans of outrageous comedy need to know one thing: this riotously funny show is simply too good to miss.
The Miller family, a perfectly correct nuclear family unit comprised of one corporate drone, one happy housewife and one pubescent daughter who consults her parents before deciding what kind of student organization she should join, finds their tranquil, mind-numbing life turned upside-down by three escapees who hide out in their home. The resulting spoof of all things ’50s and of conformity of all kinds is almost unbelievably funny.
Orloff and Berkow have the laughs coming so fast and so furiously that you know you miss some of them and, like a certain critic, you’ll wish you could see it again.
Sandee Cunningham is wonderfully funny as the mother, Ethel, and she gives this bland domestic goddess just the right level of polite, subterranean hysteria. Patrick Stinson is likewise funny as Herbert, her husband, and his spineless stiffness is a carefully arranged work of art.
As Cindy, their almost-18 daughter, Jessica Bartz is simply hilarious. From physical bits and gamine cheer to the perfected inflection of a vocal whine, Bartz is absolutely superb and audience members won’t want to miss a single line she delivers.
Also first-rate are Chris Amos and Craig Merriman, who play a couple of brothers who are two-bit felons. Ryan Nelson, who plays Spot, their slightly-canine sidekick (and gets a dance solo, even though the show isn’t a musical), is laugh-out-loud hilarious. These guys know how to wring every possible laugh out of every single line, and that’s just what they do here.
To tell you the specifics of how these folks get you rolling in the aisles or to reveal the many plot digressions would be to spoil part of the lighthearted, over-the-top fun, so all I will tell you about the six scenes in “Domestic Tranquility” is that you don’t want to miss any of them. (That’s especially true anytime a character sits down at the dinner table or gets lost in reverie.)
A functional, sometimes even delightful, set earns laughs of its own, as do some costume and makeup ensembles that you just have to see for yourself, but the lines and the actors are the big winners here as are audiences who love to laugh, because that’s what you will get to do if you see it.
“Domestic Tranquility” is sheer and totally hilarious comic genius.