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Set design, music capture mood

THEATER REVIEW

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.

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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

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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,

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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

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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

appropriately intriguing.

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

simplicity.


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