By Tom Dudzick
Directed by Roxane Ashe
1167 Main Street
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
November 21 – December 13, 2008
An Evening at the Coastal Rep Theater with Tom Andersen
Email Tom ([email protected]
“Greetings”, a delightful holiday- themed play by Tom Dudzick is currently on stage at the Coastal Repertory Theater in Half Moon Bay. The first scene opens with a young couple sitting on a plane headed for New York City. It’s Christmastime, and they’re celebrating at the young man’s parent’s home. He’s been brought up Catholic, and she’s Jewish, but a horrible family tragedy has driven her to declare that she’s an atheist.
The next scene takes us into his parent’s home where Mom is putting the finishing touches on the holiday decorations, which are hilarious! Nothing is lacking in Christmas ornamentation, including the felt antler headgear and glowing earrings that could power the traffic signal at Highway 1 and 92. Joyously trimming the tree is the young man’s brother, a mentally impaired fellow, whose high spirits are uplifting–but when he talks, nobody can understand what he’s saying. His speech sounds slurry, unintelligible. Evidenty he has always been that way. Meanwhile the adult brothers fall into their childhood ways, wrestling and roughhousing on the floor.
Enter the father who needs a cane because of his limp. He’s negative, bombastic. Everybody sits down in fear, and Dad meets the young man’s girlfriend. He’s told that she’s Jewish and an atheist, a lethal combination that tests the father’s patience. The father aggressively attacks both her beliefs and lack of. Things get really strained after that and the couple prepares to cut their visit short.
Then, in the middle of all the emotional chaos and noise, the mentally challenged brother blurts out something that, for the first time ever, everybody understands. “Greetings,” he says, which is also the title of the play.
The family is astonished, flabbergasted. Greetings. It seems to express the feeling of the moment; it’s exciting, philosophical, above their heads but what IS that accent? It’s East Indian. He’s got a foreign accent, no, yes, well, let’s just say that a “cosmic entity” temporarily takes over the brother’s body, at the brother’s invitation. This guy has plenty to say, delivered in an East Indian accent, and what follows shakes up everybody’s beliefs.
“Greetings” has many, many very funny one line zingers. The actor who portrays the “impaired” brother & the spirit that possesses him does a terrific job. During the standing ovation, which lasted several minutes, he was the last to take his bows, and the applause and cheers surged loudly!
But when I first sat down to watch this play, the characters seemed so rigid, suffocating and stereotypical that I could not imagine two hours in the presence of these people. This is a first rate production with fine acting. Hat’s off to Roxanne Ash for her excellent direction, and to the Coastal Repertory Theater for choosing such a unique script!