Monday Magazine theatre reviewer
Langham Court Theatre’s production of Joe Dipietro’s autobiographical Over the River and Through the Woods is lovely – rich in humour and yet with a good dollop of pathos. It is brilliantly acted and directed skillfully by Jason Vikse.
Liam McDonald plays the role of Nick, a young professional with big ambitions and even bigger family ties. A promotion will take him to the other side of the United States, but telling his two sets of Italian-American grandparents about the imminent move proves very difficult. They are loud and argumentative and Nick finds it difficult to get them to stop and listen to what he has to say.
Ira Shorr, in the role of Nick’s paternal grandfather Nunzio, is quite droll, his favourite comments being “What the hell is that?” or “What the hell kind of question is that?” His wife, Emma, is charmingly portrayed by Angela Henry.
David Biltek and Pam Miller play Nick’s mother’s parents, Frank and Aida, whose home is the focal point for all the activity. She thinks feeding people enormous amounts of food is the answer to everything, while he is a victim of his own poverty-stricken youth.
The four grandparents carry on as stereotypical Italian immigrants do, with the actors’ precision timing making their ‘conversations’ hilarious. The sixth character, Caitlin, is well acted by Emily McFarland, and may well be the most complex character in the play. She has the dubious honour of being the decoy intended to keep Nick in New Jersey.
Carol-Anne Moore’s lighting is quite effective, especially in the amusing opening scene, and spotlighting characters who directly address the audience. Vikse created a beautiful and functional set with set decor specialist Ann Harris and carpenter Chris Clarke.
Over the River and Through the Woods is a great beginning to Langham Court’s new season, and an appetizer for more goodies to come. It runs until Oct. 12 and tickets may be obtained by visiting langhamtheatre.ca, by calling 250-384-2142 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.