Hilarious Yet Emotional Look At Family and Love

Review of Cy Woods’ Theatre Company’s “You Can’t Take it With You”


Paige Romig

While backstage, Junior Tressel Eckman gets into character as Boris Kolenkhov.

PeytonB, Staff Reporter

Wow. I must admit that I’m not an avid playgoer, nor do I like to walk into anything with any sort of expectations, but I wasn’t expecting this.

You Can’t Take It With You, a play by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, tells the story of Tony Kirby and Alice Sycamore, played by seniors Marcus Gray and Sarah Swift respectively, two young people in a relationship. As Alice invites Tony’s parents over for dinner, we’re introduced to her crazy extended family, who just might be a little too much for the Kirbys.

The production takes place in one room, which I have to admit I’m a sucker for. I’m a big fan of contained stories, with 12 Angry Men possibly being one of the best examples. So, whenever anything of the sort comes out, I have a soft spot for them. However, even the most cynical man on the planet would find it next to impossible to ignore the obvious craft on display here. This is a wonderful production, one that I won’t find myself forgetting anytime soon. In fact, the events are still going through my head.

Now, let’s get the obvious out of the way. I don’t have to tell anyone that the set design for this play is beautiful, even though it is. I don’t have to tell anyone that it’s very handsomely directed, even though it is. For anyone who’s seen a Cy Woods production before, that’s a given. What surprised me was just how much I loved the story. Instead of taking a more serious approach to the subject, as others would probably do, I found myself constantly laughing, to the point where I was worried that I might be annoying others. This is an incredibly funny script, with the type of pitch-perfect, rapid-fire dialogue that would make Aaron Sorkin proud. So much of this is due to Junior Tressel Eckman as Boris Kolenkhov, who was so absolutely hilarious. In fact, I think he steals the entire play. He manages to find a delicate balance where if he had gone a step further, the entire performance would’ve deflated. That’s a very tricky skill for professional actors to pull off, but Eckman pulls it off.

As funny as the production is, its’ real strength is its performances. All across the board, they’re phenomenal. About halfway through, I realized that I had begun to think of these characters as real people, like I’d met them before. When you begin to think that, the actors have definitely done their jobs well. I grinned with delight when things seemed to be going their way, and my heart sank when it went south. A perfect example of this is Swift, who gives a truly beautiful performance as Alice. Every line of dialogue and every look on her face displays a world of emotion behind it, and I found myself smiling because of it. Despite a lack of backstory given to her character, I found myself caring by the end.

However, my one flaw with the play has nothing to do with the acting or any of the technical elements. It’s the characterization that the script provides. But, either way, no matter how well acted the play was, some of the characters were very withdrawn and the script failed to convey what was driving them or why they were the way they were.

Overall, You Can’t Take It With You is a wonderful production, bolstered by impeccable performances and witty dialogue. Plays like these aren’t made anymore, and whenever they are, I will always support them.

Rating: A