Friday, September 14, 2012

American Heartland "Making God Laugh" review by JLin

Making Audiences Laugh
Rating: 4

Making God Laugh
American Heartland Theatre

The American Heartland Theatre delivers another successful production with the Kansas City Premiere of "Making God Laugh" by Sean Grennan. The whole cast ensemble delivers this joke packed script with talent and skill.

Each of the four scenes is 10 years apart, starting in Thanksgiving of 1980, showing three grown up children visiting their parents. The kids, played by Brian Miller, Jessalyn Kincaid, and William Warren, hadterrific chemistry, both with each other and their parents. Jessalyn stood out a little for me, but I think that was mostly because her character was given the most jokes. Don Richard and Kathleen Warfel made an adorable older couple and caring, though flawed, parents. Each actor had created characters that you could meet on the street in the real world down to the tiniest personality quirks and physical tics. Warfel was especially exceptional, as her character was slowly overcome by dementia.

The script was practically non-stop "jokes" for the first three scenes. Some of them fell a little flat, but the intention was clear. When the comedic moments weren't driven by the family interactions, they were simply time appropriate comments that would only be funny to someone who knows what is to come (Don't invest in Google! Go with Enron!). However, when the last scene came Ruthie (Warfel) was completely lost to dementia and it was all so sad that it was like hitting a brick wall after going 100 mph. There were still funny moments in the last scene, but it was a shock to the system to change dynamics like that so suddenly.

Overall this show was really enjoyable and I think everyone will be able to find something to relate to (though Catholics and actors might get a little special treatment). The ending was a little somber, and the wigs were a little obvious, but other than that, I was very happy with the performance.

"Making God Laugh" runs through October 21, 2012.

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