Things My Mother Taught Me is the first show in the all-volunteer Buck Creek Players’ new season. It has some good laughs and offers a nice mix of conversation topics for the ride home, such as:
What do you think about living together before marriage? If you are married, what is your proposal story? What was the first piece of furniture you picked out together? Is there such a thing as unconditional love? Have you ever downed a pickle back shot?
And although I don’t usually care about theatre season themes, I do love the many ways this show fits Buck Creek’s: "Life 101: A Season of Life Lessons."
The story is of a couple in their late 20s. Today they are moving into their first apartment together. Both sets of parents show up to give unsolicited help and advice. Everyone grows up a bit during this one hectic day.
This is the second comedy by Katherine DiSavino, whose parents have run the all-comedies Rainbow Dinner Theatre outside Philadelphia for years. I imagine the life lessons she learned growing up in that environment inform her writing.
At Buck Creek, this is Heather Aislynn Johns’ first time directing instead of just assisting. One of the two leads, Michele Papandria as Olivia Keegan, has more of a film acting background than stage acting. Bradley S. Kieper, the man that plays goofy apartment manager Max Mirowski, has more opera/musical theatre experience than comedy. This is lead Christopher A. Dietrick’s (Gabe Lawson) first acting gig ever.
None of these artists are kids, so I imagine they all let their already-learned life lessons inform their new roles. Even though some of their pacing and timing choices, especially in the first act, didn’t work for me, I also felt as if I were watching talented adults develop in new ways right before my eyes. That was fun.
The more experienced artists ground the show. All of the parent actors were new to me but I believed their portrayals of their characters’ individual foibles as well as their shared concerns. Tom Meador and Lina Ricks play Gabe’s parents, Wyatt and Lydia Lawson. Dennis Karr and Tracy Brunner play Olivia’s parents, Carter and Karen Keegan.
Aaron B. Bailey’s set design is a treat, as usual, and sound designer D. Scott Robinson’s music choices made me laugh out loud.