A family gathers together to stage an intervention for an alcoholic son. Mother and father can’t stand their son Zac and don’t seem much keener on each other. His second-best friend is babbling about the locked door and his aunt appears to be using the opportunity to show off her descriptive writing skills. Meanwhile proceedings are supervised by an AA counselor who is way out of his depth. What could possibly go wrong? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot.
Dave Florez’s new play at first appears to be pitched somewhere between black situational comedy and farce, peopled with a thoroughly dislikeable group of middle-class Chicagoans. Around half-way through there is an abrupt gear change- too abrupt in fact- and suddenly Zac’s description of the intervention as “a David Lynch version of a Bar mitzvah” seems somewhat understated.
Revelation piles upon revelation until ennui sets in. Revealing the nature of these revelations would spoil them, so may it suffice to say that a theme done to death on the Fringe is once again dredged up, dealt with in a trite and rather sensationalist manner. There is an interesting point to be made about the ways people try to escape from family- Zac’s drinking certainly seems to be as much life-sustaining as life-destroying- but it gets lost amidst the onslaught.
The saving grace of the play is the excellence of the acting. Though the cast may be made up of those better known as comedians they tackle the dark stuff as well as the funny. Even towards the end, where the plot twists called for the actors to do a great deal of standing up and shouting, their responsiveness to events was a joy to watch. Amongst a uniformly strong ensemble cast Jan Ravens stood out in particular as the mother, Martha, a woman whose pursed lips and tightly crossed legs spoke volumes. Florez wrote the play with Phil Nichol in mind as Zac and there was a concentrated energy to his performance that did much to avoid his lengthy monologues lagging.
Despite the fairly significant flaws in the script this is a play worth seeing for the acting alone. You just may need a stiff drink afterwards.