The Hells' kitchen
The Hell family makes Thanksgiving dinner one to remember in "Epic Family Epic."
By ROBIN EISGRAU
If the thought of sitting down to a big meal with
your relatives gives you the shivers, you'll certainly
appreciate this play, as it depicts a chaotic,
twisted, dysfunctional clan getting together for a
holiday dinner far removed from idyllic Norman
Rockwell scenes. Produced in conjunction with Hands
On, the New York based service organization dedicated
to bringing performances to the deaf, "Epic Family Epic"
features hearing, hard of hearing and deaf performers
and American sign language. As one actor speaks,
another relates his words in sign language, making for
a compelling, multi-dimensional performance.
Narrated by the patrician Valda Setterfield, who
appears clad in a quilted, prairiesque gown, the Hell family gets together for their holiday
meal and anxieties abound. Two young women, Delia and
Celia Hell, tell the tale of how they were born
conjoined (their costumes have velcro patches sewn
into them through which they attach themselves
periodically) and then separated. After some years
away, they're reuniting with the other Hells and are a
little nervous about it. You can't blame them, given
that no member of the Hell family is what they
seeem all the Hells have several personalities, so
it's rather confusing who is exactly who. The
tables, set with colorful plastic dishes, have
wheels an the bottom and get pushed around as
everybody tries to find their place (literally and
|EPIC FAMILY EPIC|
|Written and directed by: Ain Gordon.|
Produced by: Alice Dissette.
Cast: Alek Friedman, Jayne Houdyshell, Lewis Merkin, Socorro Santiago, Valda Setterfield, Mara Stephens, Anne Tomasetti.
Created in collaboration with: Hands On and Beth Prevor
Lighting design by: Agnieszka Kunska
Stage Manager: Corrie Pond
Related links: Hand On
|Dance Theater Workshop|
219 West 19th St.
Nov. 19-29, 2003
"Epic Family Epic" is great fun to watch, not only for
witnessing the vigorous sign language, but for the
vibrant energy and expressiveness of the performers.
The writing is crisp and very funny, especially Aunt
Tess's diatribe against doorbells ("Death rings the
doorbell, death and kids from the street!"). There is
some deft physical comedy and the play only lags a bit
when the Wonderfuls (the other side of the Hell
family) pay a visit. The dialogue is peppered with
phrases worth remembering, especially towards the end
when one character muses, "Your family knows just how
to hurt you." Bon appetit.
|NOVEMBER 27, 2003|
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