Mothers know best in Epilogue comedy

By Wendy Carson

Parents – we all have them; we all love them; they all give us both good and bad advice; and they all drive us crazy. This is the basic premise of Katherine DiSavino’s “Things My Mother Taught Me,” presented by Epilogue Players.

Young Olivia (Erynne Sutton) and her long-time boyfriend Gabe (Ethen Romba) are in the process of moving in together. However, the new chair they picked out together is stuck in the doorway, which also alludes to how they are still stuck under their parents’ careful scrutiny, even after moving halfway across the country.

Since Gabe is a mama’s boy, he, naturally but to Olivia’s surprise, invites his parents to come help with the move. Lydia (Serita Borgeas) is the classic definition of a “Smother,” and her husband Wyatt (Tom Meador) is easy-going and totally oblivious to her overzealous nature. Once they arrive, Lydia takes over everything and poor Olivia is overwhelmed.

Things go even more haywire when Olivia’s parents Karen (Karen K. Temple) and Carter (R.C. Thorne) arrive as well. Add to this their moving van being stolen and the crazy antics of their building manager, Max (Stephen E. Foxworthy) and you can see how the laughs just keep on coming in this delightful farce.

Sutton gives Olivia a tender hopefulness that everything will eventually work out for everyone while Romba keeps Gabe at wits end trying to keep all of his plans together, no matter who spoils them.

Borgeas shows the caring side of Lydia that is often overlooked due to her commandeering ways while Meador shows Wyatt is more interested in finding a fix to a situation that the repercussions his actions might have. Temple brings Karen’s fears of her child repeating her own mistakes to the forefront of her own neurosis while Thorne brings so much light-hearted sweetness to his role as Carter.

Director Brent Wooldridge keeps the laughs coming, while allowing the solid parental advice within the script to be heard.

Learning can be fun – at least when you’re in the audience. Take a lesson at Epilogue, “Hedback Corner” at 1849 N. Alabama, Indianapolis, through Sunday, Sept. 25. Get information and reserve tickets at epilogueplayers.com.

Wacky ‘Idiots’ in Westfield

By John Lyle Belden

“Flaming Idiots” is not Shakespeare, but the Bard does get a shout-out. This farce by Tom Rooney, presented by Main Street Productions in Westfield through Sunday (April 10) is the kind of laugh-out-loud escapist fare that comes in handy in ever-troubled times. 

The cast features many kinds of fools: 

  • Phil (Ethan Romba) is really good at jumping into things and not thinking them through, while convinced he has a fool-proof plan. So he accepts a local mobster’s offer to take over a failing restaurant, though Phil knows next to nothing about the business (which is apparently more than enough, in his mind). 
  • Phil’s partner Carl (Austin Uebelhor) is the kind of general dunce who is randomly curious about everything and understands nothing. His one stroke of genius is creating the eatery’s signature cocktail, the Flaming Idiot (“One drink makes you silly,” he explains.) 
  • Local police Officer Task (Jeffrey Haber) has an IQ somewhere between that of his horse and his last donut (so, of course he’s studying to become Detective) but at least he’s friendly and helpful.
  • Eugene (Austin Hookfin) is a waiter and aspiring ACTOR! who is really invested in his method and eager for his chance to shine.
  • Ernesto Santiago (Chris Taylor), a busboy from the barrios of Norway(?), seems to have some sense about him, as well as a mysterious briefcase, though he does lose his cool when anyone mentions “laundry.”
  • Bernadette (Wendy Brown) is the most sensible of the bunch, and the best vegetarian chef in town, but also completely deaf from a recent accident. (Will this be exploited for comic misunderstandings? Note the word “farce” above.)
  • Jayne Fryman (Ashley Engstrom) seems to do everything for the hometown newspaper – advertising, food critic, crime beat – which, having been a small-paper writer myself, I find the most believable character. However, she is plagued with a “wardrobe malfunction” that is the cause of a lot of cheeky laughs.
  • The play’s plot includes the idea to fake a mob murder to give Phil’s Restaurant the buzz of noteriety; enter Louie (Eric Bowman), the past-his-prime hitman who needs a diagram to make sure he goes through the correct door.
  • Aside from Bernadette, the smartest character by far is a random Body that, when shaved, somehow resembles a famous stage producer. He gives a truly moving performance (in a wheeled office chair).

Actually, it takes a lot of smarts to make an “idiotic” performance funny, and this crew delivers a MENSA-level effort under the genius direction of Brian Nichols. And for an all-ages show, you end up seeing a lot of underwear!

It’s all in good fun, at the Basile Westfield Playhouse, 220 N. Union St. Get information and tickets at WestfieldPlayhouse.org.