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Theatre Review (LA): That Good Night by Andrew Dolan at The Road Theatre

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That Good Night is a play by Andrew Dolan that is getting its world premiere at the Road Theatre. It is billed as a story about sex, drugs, death, and a clown – “a perfect family reunion.”

Dad is ready to have all life support turned off, and the family gathers to witness the occasion. Now this is a truly dysfunctional family. Whether you enjoy the play may depend on whether it cuts too close to the bone in its subject matter, or of course whether you like to spend an evening with these people. I found myself in between. I didn’t like the characters much and sometimes found the acting forced or unfocused, with a few actors looking like they didn’t know how to react to some of the more outlandish plot points.

Nonetheless the cast is very good. Judith Scarpone was giving her last performance as the half-crazy mother, a religious nut who occasionally goes off and yells her head off – a family trait, it seems, since the father (Leon Russom) does it too. There are three brothers, Danny (Chet Grissom), Chuck (John Cragen playing a totally unlikable character), and Bernie Zilinskas as Sean the clown.

The story is told from the point of view of the clown, which helps bring out both the humor and any poignancy of the piece. Zilinskas with his wide-eyed innocence nearly steals the show. Also in the cast is Elizabeth Sampson as the sister, Alice, Melissa Kite as Gretchen, Danny’s wife, and a lovely Keelia Flinn as Chuck’s paramour. Flinn’s character is often the catalyst for the action. There is a big twist that you might guess, but it clarifies the whole plot, sort of.

Scott Alan Smith has directed, but as I said sometimes the actors seem at a loss as to exactly how to respond. But for the most part his direction is clear and clean. That Good Night plays at The Road Theatre until July 21 but they often extend.

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