Carrying the ball are Rescher and Strapp, who provide diametric balance to Dresser’s trans-generational turntable. Rescher is responsible for gaining most of the yardage and she keeps Annie amusing and winning. She gets superb support from Preston Maybank as a former college friend now in an important position - at least for the plot. Maybank brings pitch perfect honesty to this bad-hair cast-off from Annie’s past, earning his laughs and our empathy. This is one of Maybank’s best recent outings.
Tim Cummings registers well as Tucker, who serves as foil for both father and daughter. In Tucker, a co-worker of Neil’s who gets brought into the family on a daughter-recommended attempt to make a new friend, Dresser lowers the IQ to rev the slapstick. Cummings, taking more license than the others, nails his lines with a dead-on-arrival delivery reminiscent of Steven Wright. In the Tucker-Jody scenes, Cummings and especially Stapp get a chance to make their characters more than mere reactive set-ups for Annie and Neil.
Tom Buderwitz has a sturdy set that fills the proscenium with the drama's principle residence. Pallets slide in and out stage left and right for additional scene locations. Julie Keen’s costumes are unobtrusive until she has fun with sad-sack Tucker's choices. Lighting Designer Paulie Jenkins sets up a nice grid that lets everyone be nicely observed, and David Edwards provides his usual fine tuning.
From its Christmas letter opening to its My Back Pages curtain call, this is light entertainment that works, especially for the Boomers who remember when it was taken for granted that ideals would always be with us.
Ah, but we were so much older then.
CREDITS: by Richard Dresser, directed by Andrew Barnicle
Tom Buderwitz, set; Julie Keen, costumes, Paulie Jenkins, lights; David Edwards, sound; Nancy Staiger, stage manager. With Tim Cummings, Preston Maybank, Matthew Reidy, DeeDee Rescher and Joanna Strapp.
Commissioned by The Laguna Playhouse
World premiere: Laguna Playhouse, Laguna Beach, California; January 1-February 4, 2007