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Review by Kathy Carpenter

January 19, 2022 (La Mesa) - Do we need permission? These days it is often touted to give yourself permission to move forward. A lot of people may think the whole plot of this play is hooey. As Nike’s slogan says, "Just Do It." But there is also such a thing as respecting others.

Lamplighters Theatre is presenting "The Cocktail Hour," a play written by A.R. Gurney. The play is based on Gurney and his family, a technique not uncommon in playwrights. The story is set in the northeast United States, many decades ago, with a somewhat affluent white family.

The play takes place on an autumn evening in 1975 in Buffalo, NY. The eldest son John, who hasn't been home in some time, returns home for a family cocktail hour to ask his family, mainly his father, for permission to produce the play he has written. The play is loosely based on the family. The dad staunchly refuses. John quickly agrees not to produce it and the cocktail hour proceeds. But time and again, conversation reverts back to John's play in this character-driven show.

The play explains a cocktail hour is for family and nowadays, friends. The cocktail hour was an hour before dinner when families got together after their day of working and being busy, to reflect, share and relax with their loved ones before sitting down to enjoy dinner together. This loss is a loss for society--not the drinking aspect, but relaxing and spending time with each other once a day. Today, we don't even sit down and eat together-- and forget relaxing and sharing.

Wwatching the play gives you pause. It makes you reflect: how can you make things better in your life? As time spent with family often is, there is humor and drama. Things are said that ought not be said, but need to be said all the same.

Despite some flubbed lines, director Dennis I. Floyd and his four actors deliver a well-acted look into what life looked like for Gurney, when he wrote the play. All four actors were amazing, each pulling out the best in each other. David Janisch played Bradley, the father. William Parker Shore plays John, Bobbi Randall plays the mom and Jena Joyce, the sister. 

The staging reflects a family home of the era, including a piano filled with family photos and a beautiful orange and purple floral arrangement which I really enjoyed. It's all in the details. Lamplighters does wonderful homey sets which add to your enjoyment of the play.

Come enjoy a slightly longer cocktail hour with someone you love. Relax and enjoy each other.

All COVID protocols are still in observance.

Lamplighters Theatre

January 14 - February 6, 2022

5915 Severin Dr.

La Mesa


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