As adults when all my sisters finally gather around a table for a meal, it’s usually a special occasion of some kind. It takes a holiday for the four of us to step out of our different worlds and step back into familial. As the wine is poured, the meal conversation usually eases from surface chit-chat to political opposition. The discussion is anchored with a long history of handling each other, amicably and prickly.
Profiles Theatre presents the Midwest premiere of SWEET AND SAD. Meet the Apple Family. Uncle Benjamin is a former successful actor with Alzheimers. He lives with his niece Barbara in Rhinebeck, New York. Her sister, Marian, recently moved in. The third sister Jane is visiting with her actor boyfriend Tim. Also unexpectedly arriving from NYC is their brother, Richard. Collectively, they are present for a 9/11 commemoration performed by Uncle Ben. Individually, they all have different reasons to be there. SWEET AND SAD serves up heart-healthy helpings of homemade drama and comedy. It made my heart ache, throb and swell for these Apples.
Playwright Richard Nelson not only wrote an ode to 9/11, he wrote about real characters dealing with life in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. Interestingly, the family was not directly affected by the tragedy but the ancillary connections to the victims have been life-changing. Nelson’s characters are real. His dialogue is chuck full of little family sidebars and insiders’ jesting. The 9/11 anniversary main storyline is thought-provoking but its the characters’ back-stories that capitivate with relatable intrigue. I’m fascinated in figuring out these Apples. Joe Jahraus expertly directs this family with natural commotion. From setting the table to clearing the table, this is a genuine family dinner. Conversations overlap and get misdirected. Secrets are revealed quickly in someone’s absence. People drink and loosen up. The camaraderie is authentic. Throughout the dinner, it’s hard to know where to focus. Certainly, there is the person speaking but character revelations continue to occur in a side-look, a defiant movement, a loving touch. This dinner is a family-style smorgasbord. I’m moved to tears several times as if my seat is actually at this family’s table.
The cast is perfect in their human imperfection. They come together as a loving and flawed family. This is the second in a four play series Nelson is writing about the Apples. His dream is for the plays to be performed in succession. I would love for that initiative to come to fruition with one caveat. I’d like to see these actors play all those Apples: Robert Breuler, Eric Burgher, Darrell W. Cox, Kate Ford, Harmony France, Kate Harris. I’m so engaged in their characters I want to know what happened to them before and after this Sunday dinner. I’m invested in this cast. I heart these Apples! SWEET AND SAD is a juicy, ripe, golden delicious!
Running Time: One hour and forty minutes with no intermission
At The Main Stage, 4139 N. Broadway
Written by Richard Nelson
Directed by Joe Jahraus
Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 5pm and 8pm
Sundays at 7pm
Thru October 7th
Buy Tickets www.profilestheatre.org