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“Things My Mother Taught Me”Uh Oh! – DCP Theater Stages Another Hit Comedy

by Geary Gorup

Please be aware that this blog review contains plot spoilers.

Sam Levy as Gabe, Madeleine Braun as Olivia

Those of you who came to the DCP Theater in Telford to enjoy Over the River and Through the Woods will thoroughly enjoy the current production of Things My Mother Taught Me by Katherine DiSavino running this Friday through Sunday, March 1, 2, and 3, and again the following Thursday through Sunday, March 8, 9,10 and 11.

DCP patrons will remember Ms. DiSavino as the author of another recent DCP production of Nana Does Vegas. Her script in the current production is more conventional than the madcap plot of Nana Does Vegas, but her characters in Things My Mother Taught Me are more endearing while retaining the wit and humor.

As in Over the River and Through the Woods, the story centers on the common failure to communicate between those in a romantic relationship and between adult children and their elders. The play opens with a young unmarried couple moving into an almost empty apartment in Chicago after living separately in New York. While Gabe plans to spring a surprise engagement to Olivia on moving day, he has also secretly invited both his parents and her parents to witness the event. Of course, almost anything that can go wrong for a couple moving their own belongings will happen here, and whatever help the parents can offer seems to be less than helpful in the young couples’ eyes. The dialogue is clever and funny, but you will also enjoy the background activities of the players that remind me of the wonderful slapstick comedy of the silent era of film.

Linda Friday as Karen, Patrick Gallagher as Carter

Director, Nancy Server Thompson, welcomes patrons with a clever monologue which connects the rules of the road for us in the audience with the things her mother taught her. That cleverness is also evident in her comic direction of the fine cast in staying true to the author’s script while still providing her actors the freedom to improvise while in character. Ms. Thompson was given this opportunity to bring Things My Mother Taught Me back to the DCP Theater after the show was cancelled just two weeks from opening night from the 2020 schedule due to COVID lockdowns. Fortunately, she was also able to bring back some of the original cast members from that effort with wonderful results.

You will find the characters to be both realistic and effective, notwithstanding any eccentricities or quirks each may have, and their interactions to be relatable to the experiences we all share with our parents and with our adult children.

Madeleine Braun (Olivia) is perfect as the girlfriend who has been less than candid with her mother about her relationship with the boyfriend of seven years with whom she will now be living for the first time. Ms. Braun’s portrayal of Olivia being compelled to share the restroom with her boyfriend’s mother has to be seen to be believed. Olivia is fun, perky, pretty, romantic and lacking any tolerance for frustration as the effort to move into the new apartment starts badly and continually worsens.

Madeleine Braun as Olivia, Linda Friday as Karen

Sam Levy plays Gabe as both romantic when he should be practical, and practical when he should be romantic. Even after seven years of dating, Olivia has not yet seen all of the oddities of behavior displayed by both Gabe when under stress and his parents when they show up unexpectedly to help with the move. Mr. Levy wears the mantle of Gabe as if he has lived there all his life. Gabe displays the success of his professional labor while wearing his heart on his sleeve. His insane plan to surprise Olivia with a marriage proposal that he has already disclosed to both his and her parents goes about as well as the move to the new apartment.

Madeleine Braun as Olivia, Sam Levy as Gabe,

A delightful, though smaller, part goes to Jeffory Beckers as Max, the Polish building superintendent. The audience comes to anticipate Max’s next comic contribution to the personal conversations of the main characters each time he comes on stage. Yet despite the Super’s repeated failures to provide help to the couple when needed, Max unexpectedly saves the day. Mr. Beckers does so much with a character who has so little dialogue.

Nancy Kadwill as Lydia, Madeleine Braun as Olivia, Jeffory Beckers as Max, Linda Friday as Karen

Gabe’s mother (Lydia) comes to life through the performance of Nancy Kadwill, a local performer with a list of acting and performance credentials as long as your arm. Lydia’s dedication to her son is as strong as her insane obsession with cleaning. Ms. Kadwill’s talent and experience shine as a doting mother and loving wife who empathizes with her son’s girlfriend’s trials and tribulations on the best and worse day of her young life.

Nancy Kadwill as Lydia

Linda Friday, another actress with her own lengthy list of fine acting credentials, is Karen, the mother who taught her daughter things based upon her own mistakes as a young woman. Although Karen found happiness in her second marriage later in life, she still believes that a twenty-seven-year-old Olivia has not experienced enough of life herself to settle down. Ms. Friday portrays Karen as the anchor which helps keep the others based in reality despite the insanity surrounding them, and who comes to appreciate the things her daughter taught her.

Madeleine Braun as Olivia, Linda Friday as Karen

Speaking of insanity, I must applaud the performances of both Patrick Gallagher (Carter) and Wesley Hrabina (Wyatt), as the respective fathers of the young couple. When sober through the first act, they are both witty and drole. When not so sober in the second act, their antics are insanely hilarious. Oddly enough, their fatherly advice seems to get better as their mental faculties obviously deteriorate.

Sam Levy as Gabe, Wesley Hrabina as Wyatt

A nod of thanks also goes to the Director’s husband, Ray Thompson as Set Designer, and to Colleen Algeo, Scenic Artist, and their crews for providing a not-so-fond memory of what it feels like to move into a new starter home or apartment, as well as for some unique DIY ideas on how to fit new furniture there.

My thanks to the DCP creative team for giving this play a second chance and for bringing it to life though this great production staff and cast! My mother taught me not to waste an opportunity – I recommend that you take this opportunity to enjoy another wonderful comedy at DCP Theater!

Things My Mother Taught Me Plays March 1-March 10th for tickets click the button below.

All Photos Courtesy of Stephen Gordon Studios

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