‘Drinking Alone’ finds comedy amid dark story of dysfunction

  • By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer
  • Friday, April 1, 2011 12:01am
  • Life

The Phoenix Theatre puts the “fun” back in “dysfunctional” with “Drinking Alone,” a play about flawed family relationships .

Directed by Rick Wright, this romantic comedy is set in the midst of the family reunion of a family that is, let’s say, challenged.

The challenge is a rather dark one: alcoholism. But through the witty dialogue of playwright Norm Foster and a fine cast, the comedy comes bubbling up like the fizz in champagne.

“It’s my favorite kind of comedy because it’s not just silly slapstick but it’s comedy overlaid on top of a tragic story,” Wright said.

That clever dialogue and comedic timing are key elements in the role of Renee, the escort hired by family member Joe Todd, to play his fiancee to impress his dad, Ivan.

Renee is played by Erica Bergman, who “once she gets going nobody can keep a straight face,” Wright said.

“She has a great sense of comedy,” Wright said.

As the story unfolds, we see that Dad has pretty much abandoned the family but pops up out of the blue for this reunion. That creates suspicion for Joe and sister Carrie who wonder what his motives are while still craving his acceptance and love.

The cynical Carrie is played by Sarah Trowbridge, who will have the audience in stitches by delivering sarcastic one-liners, Wright said.

Ivan is played by veteran actor John Klise, who brings us a curmudgeonly and sarcastically funny dad. Klise played the Henry Fonda role when The Phoenix presented “On Golden Pond.”

“The audience will like him because in the beginning he comes on as a villain, but during the course of the show, you find there is a reason for his madness,” Wright said.

Ivan has remarried and his second wife is played by Phoenix veteran comedic actress Melanie Calderwood, playing it straight here as the calming “Mrs. Cleaver” type.

“Overall we try to give people quality,” Wright said. “Not just with the scripts but with the actors too.”

“Drinking Alone” opens at 8 tonight at the Phoenix, 9673 Firdale Ave., Edmonds. Shows are 8 p.m Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through April 23.

Tickets are $18, $15 and $12. Call the box office at 206-533-2000 or go to tinyurl.com/5uc3fud.

Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; goffredo@heraldnet.com.

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