Victory Gardens Theatre, in association with Actors Theatre of Louisville, presents the co-World Premiere of APPROPRIATE.
I’ve never really liked the word ‘appropriate.’ The label is thrown around with confident ease to judge improper behavior. The wrinkle is the verdict is purely subjective. In this new work, Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins makes that point numerous times to varying degrees of extreme.
APPROPRIATE intrigues. Jacobs-Jenkins’ plot has an estranged family gathering for an estate sale. The story is a multi-layered rummaging. His characters search through the discarded past hoping to find something of value for the future. His dialogue is riddled with subtle nuisances. His siblings relate to each other with the established angst of big sister-little brothers expectations.
Director Gary Griffin paces this blistering drama with perfect comedic timing. As the disturbing family reveals continue to startle, humor is injected unexpectedly. The free-spirited Leah Karpel (River) has barely exited the room when Kirsten Fitzgerald (Toni) blurts out a deep, dark secret. The execution is dead-pan hysterical. Fitzgerald delivers a powerhouse performance as the domineering sister. The show centers around Toni’s attempts to keep her family and her memories of her father intact. Each of the talented ensemble brings unique personality to their roles individually and within the family unit.
The interactions are authentic and always slightly inappropriate. Karpel and the vivacious Jennifer Baker (Cassidy) have a weird girl chat. The hilariously detached Keith Kupferer (Bo) and delightfully uptight Cheryl Graeff (Rachael) strategize about selling pictures. Alliances continue to shift from relative to relative without the burden of loyalty. Fight Choreographer Ryan Bourque manifests the familial discord into a back-stabbing, hair-pulling, fist-swinging brawl. Yes, this family is inappropriate, marvelously so.
Jacobs-Jenkins impressively blurs the lines of distinction. Everybody has an inappropriate element to their persona yet nobody is completely unlikable. Jacobs-Jenkins forces us to see the subjectivity in judging these family members from an insider or outsider perspective. We end up rooting for everyone and no one as we watch the sublime ensemble grapple with buried secrets.
APPROPRIATE is appropriately close to the holidays. After spending time with this family, spending time with your family will seem less dramatic.
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes an intermission
At Victory Gardens, 2433 N. Lincoln
Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Gary Griffin
Tuesdays at 7:30pm (except Nov 19 and 26)
Wednesdays at 7:30pm (except Nov 27th at 2pm)
Thursdays at 7:30pm (except Nov 28th)
Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 4pm and 7:30pm
Sundays at 3pm
EXTENDED Thru December 14th
Buy Tickets at www.victorygardens.org
Production photo by Michael Courier