Glendale Community College Theatre Arts Department’s “Keeping Up with
the Joneses” displays signs of potential and yet ironically struggles
to maintain a sense of momentum.
Playwright Nate Eppler has composed a wryly humorous, yet
eventually tragic expose of a family whose sole commonality is their
incredibly high IQs. His award-winning script fluctuates between
intensely emotional scenes and quietly introspective narration as it
takes us full circle to a disturbing revelation.
This expert-balancing act would work better here were there not a
fairly overpowering case of “Everything I’m Saying is So Important”
slowing down the cast.
Ian Felchlin as younger brother, Calvin Jones, is our tour guide
into the hearts and minds of this dysfunctional foursome.
Unfortunately, director Brent Falco has Felchlin moving almost
constantly throughout the intimate space of GCC’s Studio Theatre,
resulting in a character who seems ill at ease and physically
detached from the thoughts he’s expressing.
Calvin’s parents, Ellis, a scientist working on highly classified
defense weaponry, and Maureen, a well-respected ornithologist (big
word for bird watcher), have obviously grown apart.
Played respectively by David Ace Frame and Helen Huss, what should
be simmering discord comes off simply as long stretches of
uncomfortable silence. All this sluggishness opens wide the door for
Ryan Lockwood as disgruntled older brother, Alexander, to take
command of the stage.
His rebellion against his father’s wishes leads him into an almost
schizophrenic delusion of grandeur as a comic book superhero.
Lockwood’s physicality borders on over-exaggeration but his scenes
with Felchlin are certainly the high points of the show.
Falco’s design team is to be commended for adhering to the adage
of “less is more.” Mare Sullivan’s use of backlighting and pools of
illumination is highly effective. Likewise, Marco Navarro’s two-story
scenic design of rough-hewn timbers and bleached muslin is
Properties master Josh Brow has created a rolling kitchenette
complete with uniquely stacking chairs and sound designer Rich
Scolari’s choices of musical interludes are haunting in their