THEATER REVIEW : Walton Brothers’ Show at the Playhouse Is No Keeper


“My Brother’s Keeper” is 15 minutes of mildly amusing music and comedy stretched--and stretched--to a wearisome two-plus hours.

Written and directed by, as well as starring, real-life brothers Jim and Bob Walton, the show is the initial entry in a three-program cabaret series Upstairs at the Pasadena Playhouse.

In its better moments, last Friday’s opening performance of the two-act production occasionally managed to achieve the feeling of an amiable set of blackouts in a summer-stock revue, with its few high points surrounded by long, dry expanses of tepid humor and forgettable tunes. At other times--pointless send-ups of the James Brothers, the Smith Brothers, and Romulus and Remus were typical--the paucity of imagination left one wondering what quirk of creative vision could have led producer David Galligan to choose this event to launch his fall series.

The evening began with Jim Walton, the elder of the two brothers, arriving on stage in search of his absent sibling. After a moment of feigned embarrassment, he sat down at one of a pair of grand pianos and started to play his part of an introductory number.


The gag, of course, was that his brother’s answering lines and complementary harmonies were missing. Not much of a gag, to be sure, but on a par with most of the humor in “My Brother’s Keeper.” In another, even more witless bit, Bob Walton appeared dressed as the duo’s mother, while brother Jim countered (in Bermuda shorts) as their father.

The single segment that reached beyond sophomoric silliness was “Impression-aholics.” What made it work, however, was not the pointless 12-Step allusions (“This is a meeting for people who don’t know who they are”), but the far-ranging, and often quite sly impressions by both brothers.

Things began to unravel even more in the second act with a succession of confused lighting cues and audio glitches. Finally, the Waltons, aware that their audience was enduring a hot September evening in a small auditorium with a non-functioning air conditioner, wisely decided to trim several scheduled pieces. It may have been their most creative decision of the night.

* “My Brother’s Keeper,” Upstairs at the Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena , (818) 356-PLAY. Ends Sunday. $20.