Though the holiday season is supposed to be one of peace and joy, 45 percent of the people in North America dread it, according to Psychology Today. In Tom Dudzick’s holiday play Greetings! we see that Andy Gorski is not looking forward to going home for Christmas. For starters, he’s bringing his Jewish fiancée Randi Stein to meet his difficult father, frazzled mother, and mentally challenged brother. Of the many holiday plays that will be performed this season, “Greetings!” will undoubtedly be one of the finest. Written by Tom Dudzick and directed superbly by Lea Dmytryck, this is one heck of an eye-opening family story at the Goshen Playhouse. Every family should see this.
Emily has already told her husband Phil that their son Mickey has been acting strangely and though he has never spoken a word, Mickey is suddenly talking. The excitement begins as soon as Andy arrives with Randi and questions regarding religious beliefs become the topic of conversation. Phil is disappointed that his son is serious about a Jewish girl, when he raised his son a Catholic. Sparks fly when Phil learns that although Randi was brought up Jewish, she’s an atheist. She hasn’t seen her family in years and doesn’t understand the problems. The conversation gets hot and hotter until suddenly, Mickey speaks up and stuns the family with uncanny wisdom.
Mike Ritts as Mickey is nothing less than triumphant in creating his character’s duality. In certainly one his finest performances, he delivers a role that is more than challenging; it is downright demanding, yet he performs with an actor’s consistency that is exemplary to say the least.
Mind you, there is not a weak performance in this entire cast. Jennifer Archer steps into the difficult role of Randi, the fiancée with a lot of negative attitudes. Archer makes it impossible for the audience to dislike Randi regardless of her controversial stands on various issues. Scott Stanchfield as Andy is a stabilizing force and is the calm in the ever-rising storm of altercation. Dianna Waller never falters as the understanding mother who loves one and all and James Wood as the irritable father figure Phil manages to play a big-hearted bully, an oxymoron for sure.
Each character in this production manages to capture the true essence of the holiday spirit, which is not only goodwill towards man, but understanding and respect for all mankind. Lea Dmytryck’s and Dave Boscarino’s three-room set design spreads out well on the Goshen stage. Phoebe Katzin’s costumes are attractively character-appropriate. Wes Baldwin’s special lighting design and Michael C.Acuosti’s sound design accent the production well.
Choose this show as your holiday treat and appreciate the differences within this family as well as your own. It’s guaranteed to bring family closer together so members may experience the real peace and joy of the Christmas season. No one will be offended by this play, but everyone seeing it will see the holidays and family in a new way. It plays through Nov. 22. Box office: 860-491-9988.
Correction: Also in the winner’s circle at Hartford Stage’s Rear Window (reviewed last week) are Linda Cho’s costumes, York Kennedy’s lighting design and Jane Shaw’s thriller sound effects.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in The American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: email@example.com