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Fish and Visitors

Fish and Visitors

ENT-Fish-and-Visitors

Reviewed by Tom Noreen

 

Fish and Visitors is a must see. Scott Phillips’ revival of his first play is better than ever. I know I laughed more and louder with this production than I did seven years ago when he first staged it. Scott has taken the classic mother-in-law comes to live with you to a new plane.

The story revolves around Eunice (Shirley Saenz), whose visits to her daughter, Cathy, (Danielle Phillips) and her husband, Steve (Russ Cole), are only appreciated by grandson, Michael (Jacob Swinehart). Eunice dotes on Michael and is almost as caustic to his older brother, Cody (Sean Murphy), as she is to Steve. Steve got off on the wrong foot with her playing Scrabble on his first date with Cathy. Even Cathy dreads the visits and says the only good thing about them is that it draws the family together as the “family battles a common enemy!”

Neighbors Jay (Steve Hutchins) and Julie (Debbie Irwin) attempt to console and help them find a way to send Eunice packing. However, each of Jay’s schemes back fires miserably, actually shedding a kindly light on Eunice and drawing the combatants to a truce with her. The exception is Cathy, who feels left out in the cold as Steve, Cody and Jay warm up to Eunice.

Danielle’s portrayal of Cathy is spot on as the long-suffering wife, whose role as chief cook, bottle washer and counselor is being usurped by her mother.  As Steve, Russ does a great job as he tries to keep Cathy happy, stop the boys from doing bodily harm to each other, not strangling Eunice, and scheming with Jay to drive Eunice away.

Shirley plays the maligned mother-in-law as if she has had years of practice. Steve is a hoot to watch as the overboard cookie snatching, golf addict neighbor. His costumes and facial expressions are worth the price of admission. As Julie, Debbie deadpans her reactions to Jay’s outlandish antics as she plays the responsible, mature half of the couple.

To round the cast out, Jon Gamm brings old coot and self proclaimed playboy Wilfred McCoy to life. Hayden Golczynski and Alec Falicki do a great job as Cody’s poker playing buddies Frank and Jimmy, as does Erica Czerski, in her role as the boys’ goody two-shoes, nerdy tagalong, Marty. Kathy McFarlane and Tammy Reagan perform Eunice’s good friends Bea and Claire with gusto.

Megan Maddocks helps Scott open the show with one of his trademark skits on following the “house rules!”

If you haven’t seen Fish and Visitors, take a break from your Memorial Day activities and escape the mosquitoes and black flies, while setting back in a comfy seat at the Kent Theatre. The show runs May 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m., with tickets available at the Cedar Springs Public Library and Alpha and Omega Coffee and Games for $12 and for students less than 18 the price is $6. Adult tickets the day of the show are $15.

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