Performance keeps audience laughing

'You Can't Take it With You' continues through Sunday.

Grade: A

Audience members cheered and clapped Wednesday as the lights dimmed to almost darkness in the University Theatre.

"You Can't Take it With You" was almost ready to begin.

Act I started out with a glimpse into the lives of the Sycamore family, a group of diverse and dynamic characters. Every member of the family had some kind of extreme and passionate hobby that brought instant laughter from the audience.

Penny, the mother played by Carey Kayser, has a fascination with play writing, and like many writers, she often puts her characters in situations she does not know how to get them out of.

Sister Essie, played by Jennifer Renee Grass, is obsessed with dancing and clearly is no good at it. Even her dance instructor, Mr. Kolenkhov, says so.

Paul, (Matt Gibson) the man of the house, makes fireworks, aided considerably by his trusty sidekick Mr. DePinna, who showed up at the Sycamore house one day and has been there ever since.

Matt Van Curen as Grandpa quit his high paying job at age 35 and never went back. This cynical yet witty member of the house ironically gives the best advice to solve and eliminate the crisis at the end of the play.

Finally, Alice (Erin Ordway) is torn between her bizarre family and the man she loves, Tony Kirby played by Bryan Campbell. Alice loves her family deeply but is nervous about marrying Tony because she is afraid the two families won't get along.

Toward the end of the first act, Alice and Tony confess their love for each other and decide to get married.

Jokes throughout the play came off perfectly timed. After a 10-minute intermission, the second act commenced.

It opened with Mrs. Wellington, a drunk actress. Wellington gave a hilarious speech about how she never touched the bottle when onstage and nearly fell over while speaking. She passed out soon after and stayed in her drunken stupor for nearly 10 minutes.

Essie's husband Ed, who is obsessed with printing strange and obscure messages, arrives at home convinced that he was being followed. Suddenly there is a knock at the door and a surprised Alice finds her groom-to-be at the door with his parents. What seemed to be a careless mix-up brought the Kirby family to the Sycamore house a night early.

As the two families chat, Alice watches in horror as everything out of her worst nightmare involving this encounter comes true. Her family members pump out a series of embarrassing questions, and bad turns to worse when dance teacher Kolenkhov grabs Mr. Kirby and wrestles him to the ground.

By the end of the act, Alice is so humiliated that she wants to cancel all wedding plans and quit her job. Tony tries to persuade her to rethink her plan but the damage has already been done.

As it turns out, the men following Ed were government agents who were investigating the strange printed messages placed inside the candy that Ed has been delivering. Audience members roared as basement fireworks randomly went off and the G-men arrested everyone in the house, including the pristine couple Mr. and Mrs. Kirby.

In the last act, Alice decides to go away for a while to take a break, but Mr. Kirby comes over to the house. Grandpa dispenses wise words to the group about how the main purpose of life is to have fun. Grandpa explains that all of the money that Kirby makes on Wall Street is no good because, "You can't take it with you."

And with these wise words, everything was right again.


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