by Wendy Coyle · August 13, 2014
Well Adjusted puts one in mind of the grand tradition of Commedia dell’arte, Moliere’s farces and the mistaken identity romps of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. Considering that the classic American television situation comedy comes from these forebearers, it makes sense why this play strongly evokes the television shows Friends, Seinfeld, Three’s Company and Sanford and Son to name a few. It is farce, slapstick and character driven.
Here, we have four young adults living together or close by, in relationships that cause plot twists, unexpected happenings and complication. We are reminded of I Love Lucy episodes where the well-meaning lie takes on a life of its own as when Lucy and Ethel, with good intentions always, get ensnared in mayhem trying to make sure that “all’s well that ends well.” In Well Adjusted, exaggerated and improbable situations arise with buffoonery, and running gags that eventually lead the main characters to a place where lessons of growth, love and tolerance are learned.
The set features a couch, coffee table, and kitchen with refrigerator evoking Seinfeld or Friends. Kate is chopping celery when Ben arrives for movie night in sweat pants, which she takes as a sign he is depressed, perhaps over an old break-up. Mark appears announcing he is not only bringing a new girlfriend but that he has invited Abby who was the cause of Ben’s heartbreak. Ben, not wanting Abby to see him as a loser, borrows Mark’s pants, while Kate fancies up the event to impress Abby and calls her roommate Beth to bring wine and food. Beth relates how Abby, her nemesis, made her feel when she’d purposely buy copy-cat clothes. Ben makes Beth invite a friend to pretend to be Ben’s girlfriend and … You get the idea.
The audience enjoys a fine ensemble, well directed, rehearsed and choreographed by Marty Moore. Claire Chandler, Deandra Irving (Beth, Natasha) light up the stage with fine comedic performances while Sarah Elizabeth Edwards and Lora Lee Jones and Kelsey Boggs are spot on in their characters (Kate, Abby and Betsy). Robert Rydland as Mark is a perfect straight man and Phil Horst (author of the work and Ben in the story) charms us throughout and makes us cheer when he finds his way.