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‘Household Tales’ comical, but confusing at conclusion

April 22nd, 2010

How many times have you talked to a friend about your family and been too embarrassed to tell the complete truth? What if your whole life turned out to be an experiment? What are the secrets that we hide from each other? 

These are all questions that are presented in the play “Household Tales,” a comedy written by local playwright Jonathan Wilhelm, and directed by Karen Gygli of the Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre Arts. The play premiered this past weekend in Kulas Auditorium

The cast of Johnathan Bolton, Brendan Hancock, Ali Karolczak, Lisa Reichert, Cara Stamp and Emma Taylor played multiple roles while achieving the humor that was intended.

In the play, four separate families are presented. Giles (Bolton) takes his fiancée Jordan (Taylor) to meet with each family. Each family is different socially and economically, and each has its own significant secrets which leave the audience wondering what is going to happen next.

This play left the audience laughing for the majority of the scenes.

Hancock plays the father in three of the families presented. The first family is a stereotypical 1950s family, and he looked the part. 

The second family is a typical “hillbilly” family, and Hancock plays a rather comical alcoholic. The disoriented state was humorous, and was done effectively both with wardrobe, (a shirt that was not tucked in and a poor effort at a tie) and his hillbilly accent.

The third family is a liberal family consisting of two college professors. Hancock, one of the professors, was able to switch from alcoholic to intellectual fairly easy. All in all, his performance was exuberant and funny. 

Hancock was able to adjust to his different roles extremely well. In one scene he is a helpful husband, in the next he is drunk and reliant on his booze, and then he adjusts to become a liberal, well-educated professor. His ability to adjust was impressive.

The set allowed for a very homey atmosphere, as the seating was limited, as all the of audience members were required to sit on stage.

The set was the same throughout, however, the parts were moved around to create different settings for each scene and family. 

The same movable parts depicted a kitchen in one scene, a living room in the second, a dining room in the third, and a sitting area in the fourth.

The biggest problem however, was that it was often difficult to hear the actors. If dialogue was taking place on the other side of the stage, it was extremely difficult to hear.

Another problem with the play was the ending. 

The final scene ended abruptly and seemed to be rather unrelated to the rest of the play. While I left the first three scenes yearning for more, I left Kulas Auditorium a bit confused.

The play’s biggest point, and the theme of “Household Tales,” was family relationships and family secrets. Every family has some deep, dark secrets and it takes some digging to find out the truth.  

It takes a lie or twisting of truths to make a story sound a lot better than it actually is, but being honest with one another is more important. In each scene of the play, once the honest truth came out, the drama peaked.

Overall, “Household Tales” was a success. It portrayed its message of the importance of family relationships fairly well. 

The acting was good, the set was simple yet effective, and most importantly, there were plenty of laughs. 

However, the sound troubles and the very questionable ending left me craving a better resolution.