When the last child has left the roost and gone off to college, Helene and George Butler are alone for the first time and it all seems too good to be true. That’s because it is, as their offspring come barging back home after trying to make it in the real world, imposing on the empty nesters and their newfound privacy, space, and generosity. To their chagrin, their sons couldn’t hack it after all and have come home to the security and love that the Butler home has to offer. There’s no need to panic, yet.
Michael, oblivious to his parents’ invasion of privacy, is 30 years old and disillusioned with his studies in Boston. Never mind that he just got his doctorate, it’s not enough. The quintessential loafer, Michael is dumping the umbral calculus in favor of exploding lab experiments. Sporting a grungy bandana, Michael, played by Andrew Schell, is an eccentric mathematician with a bit of Nutty Professor on the side. With not only just a penchant for math, he seeks to solve the problems in life that cannot be solved. He majors on semantics and the very meaning of his own existence. Left to ponder life’s enigmas and complexities, he can’t begin to fathom how his parents would actually like him to leave.
The comedy Alone Together, by Lawrence Roman, (Under the Yum Yum Tree) drips with sarcasm, wit, double entendre, and has plenty of adult humor to go around. As with most situational comedies, the characters are fleshed out but are two dimensional, comical archetypes. Both older sons lack morals and are “screwed up.” Michael has failed MIT and Elliot is married with a wandering eye, blinded by his own hubris, misogyny, and lack of self-awareness. Youngest son Keith (Peyton Banks) is just as co-dependent as the others, making a five- hour trip back home when he runs out of his mother’s homemade sandwiches.
Elliot (Aaron Spracklin), is on stress leave, his wife threw him out, and he’s unwittingly settled in back home to deflect his problems. Elliot becomes distracted when female guest Janie Johnson, many years his junior, arrives and he becomes obsessed with winning her over. To his detriment, Janie is just not interested in married men.
Lilly Frields is darling as the offbeat and innocent Janie. A Doomsday enthusiast partial to running around skimpily clad, leaving little to the imagination, she adds to the comic relief with her matter-of-fact quips and exuberance. Often paying visits to each son’s room, her intentions are pure-in fact we learn she is chaste and has adopted a new celibate philosophy to live by. It’s a new and startling revelation for Helene to grasp.
When Keith emerges, pandemonium ensues in a hilarious scene with the family trying to kick him out to save Helene’s sanity. With all three sons officially back with an uninvited guest in transition, it drives Helene up a wall. Creatively stifled and exasperated, she becomes increasingly complacent and moody. Her children are like “yo-yos, homing pigeons; recidivists.” She failed them at a young age with her psychology in parenting while her conciliatory husband (Kevin Colbert) sheepishly enabled them. Wendy Allen as Helene finesses a fine balance between wit and temperament.
A generational yet cultural paradox, the show is all too relatable for parents with grown children still living or moving back home. The dichotomy between George and Helene is an entertaining, driving force amid all the chaos. While Helene wears the pants, Colbert’s George saves face with a redeemable moment as he takes a stand. He too has tolerated his children’s antics long enough and is justifiably at his wit’s end.
A beautiful split-level home set graces the stage with seven doors aligning the top floor. The actors make ample use of their space with director Colbert’s staging, from slamming doors to revolving, hilarious action. Costumes choices by costume consultant Janet Young Sorensen are modern and fresh.
With all the back-and-forth shenanigans going on in the house, Alone Together is underrated comedy gold. The script reads well and delivers even better. Zany characters are larger than life as they navigate through their fair share of outlandish events. Great fun for a night out, be sure to catch this comedic masterpiece!
Alone Together runs September 3rd-12th at 7 PM Thursday-Saturday, and 2 PM on Sunday. Masks are required. May be removed when in your seat while eating and drinking only. Social distancing seats available.