Hannah Hoopingarner & Ian Weber in Things My Mother Taught Me. Photo courtesy Eve Theatre Company.
Things My Mother Taught Me
By Katherine DiSavino
Directed by Megan Burnett
Review by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents copyright © 2017 Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved.
Many of us have been through what young couple Gabe (Ian Weber) and Olivia (Hannah Hoopingarner) experience in this adorable comedy: leaving home and moving in together. Gabe and Olivia are moving into their first apartment together in a new city, Chicago, without the help of movers. Olivia is distraught that the new chair that she and Gabe purchased is stuck in the doorway, while Gabe is nonchalant about the whole ordeal. Max (Miguel Walker), the building’s manager, shows up and warns the couple to keep an eye on their moving truck and the property contained therein.
Gabe notices his beloved’s distress, but in trying to calm her down lets it slip that his parents are coming to assist with the move. Though she isn’t thrilled at first, Olivia accepts that Gabe’s parents, Lydia (Charlotte Hammet Hubrich) and Wyatt (Gary Crockett), are well intentioned and love the both of them.
As you can imagine, even the most well intended guests can get on a person’s nerves, and it doesn’t take long with Lydia’s obsessive cleaning and insistent advice. After a trip to the grocery store, who should walk in but Olivia’s parents, Karen (Diane Stretz-Thurmond) and Carter (David X. Thurman)? While Gabe is very close with his parents, the same is not so true with Olivia.
Olivia is highly uncomfortable with the arrangement of both sets of parents staying with them, but tries to accept it and go with the flow. While fixing dinner Karen shares secrets and advice with Olivia that is not well received and the two argue as Lydia tries to mediate.
As dinner is finished they find that the moving truck is being stolen. The fathers and Gabe go out into the streets to go look for it, leaving the ladies behind. After a couple of bottles of wine and some vodka and advice from Max, the ladies come to the realization that Olivia is doing just fine and had actually been listening to her mother all along. In a state of slight inebriation Lydia blurts out one of the reasons for their visit: Gabe is going to propose. Gabe is upset by his mother’s slip and feels that his moment has passed.
As you can imagine, there is indeed a very sweet and charming proposal, but of course not without a few hiccups to give it a little flavor.
While the plot of this comedy is a bit predictable, the energy and talent of its cast makes it quite entertaining.
It is fun to see real life couples play couples on stage such as is the case with Diane Stretz-Thurman and David X.Thurman as Gabe’s parents. While Ms. Thurman’s Karen is pragmatic, she shows a soft touch as she begins to realize her daughter’s growth. Mr. Thurman’s Carter is laid back and observant, as is Gary Crockett’s Wyatt. Both fathers know when the time is right to say something and what course of action to take when it was necessary. Charlotte Hammet Hubrich’s Lydia was a fun blend of meddling Momma and comedy clown. Miguel Walker did a great job as Polish building manager Max, complete with an Iron Curtain dialect.
Hannah Hoopingarner and Ian Weber were realistic in their depiction of Olivia and Gabe, respectively. They exhibit a sound understanding of the life experience they are portraying, and made for an adorable couple on stage.
The open set by Gerry Kean was well put together and Ashley Nichole Sims’ props seemed to be appropriate in capturing what kind of neighborhood that Olivia and Gabe were moving into. While I would have liked to see some different gels used in certain scenes, I believe Mo Stucker’s lighting design was rather good, as was Brandi Hornbuckle’s sound design.
All in all, it seems as if director Megan Burnett was keen on letting these actors and designers do what they do best: be themselves.
Things My Mother Taught Me
June 22 – July 1, 2017
Eve Theatre Company
At KCD Theater
4100 Springdale Road
Louisville, KY 40241
Annette Skaggs is heavily involved as an Arts Advocate here in Louisville. She is a freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe and in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career, she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York City Opera, and Northwestern University. Her knowledge and expertise have developed over the course of 25+ years’ experience in the classical arts.