Theater Review: ‘Greetings!’ puts the fun in dysfunctionalism
The Global ImpActors Group production of Tom Duzick’s “Greetings!” is an insightful, witty and all too relevant exploration of intolerance and other things that divide us, continuing through Nov. 11 at The Macungie Institute, Macungie.
Set in Pittsburgh at Christmastime in 1990, “Greetings” introduces the Gorskis, a working-class family headed by Phil, a staunchly Catholic, traditionalist father, and his perpetually-anxious wife Emily.
Living at home is Mickey, the intellectually-challenged younger son who has never been able to speak more than a few monosyllabic words.
Coming home for the holidays is 30-year-old son Andy, who is accompanied by Randi, his Jewish, actress, atheistic fiancé.
In this theatrical gem, the Gorskis serve as a microcosm of social and religious tensions that pit secularism against the moral majority. Though billed as a comedy, there is a derisive edge to much of the discourse.
When Phil learns that his prospective daughter-in-law doesn’t believe in God, he snaps, “I feel really sorry for you, young lady. The day you die, you are going to get the surprise of your life.”
Director Tesia Nicoli captures the right balance between the comedy and the complex personal relationships and rancor among the characters. She never lets the audience forget that beneath the discord there is still caring and love.
During the Nov. 2 opening night performance seen for this review, Corey Breiner’s performance as Mickey was remarkable. His presence is pervasive, even when he sits silently in his corner next to the Christmas tree. When he finds his voice, the transformation is startling. He makes the transitions flawlessly to muse and back again.
As Phil, Bill Joachim is adequately grouchy and obstinate as he challenges views opposed to his own. In one of his best scenes with Andy, he insists that given their conflicting beliefs they both can’t be right. “Someone has to be right and someone wrong,” he argues. When all is said and done, however, Joachim the actor lets it be seen that Phil the character really is a softy under all that bluster.
Fine performances are also given by Genia Miller (Emily), Thomas Rush (Andy) and Tara Short (Randi).
Technical director Brad Boushell’s set bleeds off the stage and onto the floor with swirls of lighted snow. A faux door in front of the stage acts as an entrance from outside, complete with a wreath and outdoor porch light.
Lighting designer Todd Williams has some tricky challenges of his own to provide that are integral to the story. And there was nary a glitch opening night.
“Greetings!,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 and 10, and 2 p.m. Nov. 11, Global ImpActors Group, The Macungie Institute, 501 E. Main St.., Macungie. Ticket information: gigtheater.weebly.com; 484-891-1314