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All Night Long - Theatre Review


By Kathy Flynn

All Night Long
(L-R) Phillip William Brock, Caroline Klidonas, John Patrick Daly, Alina Phelan, Cat Davis in All Night Long
Photo by Darrett Sanders

From the opening laugh track when Eddie takes the stage, there's no doubt that John O'Keefe's All Night Long is a satire of nuclear family sitcoms such as Father Knows Best, and Leave it to Beaver, featuring parents Jack and Jill, and their 2.5 children. The characters are all well-worn stereotypes. Son Eddie (John Patrick Daly) appears to be your typical sitcom teen, who gets bullied at school and is constantly slamming food into his mouth. Daughter Tammie (Caroline Klidonas) seems underwritten and doesn't really have a lot going on besides exploring her newfound sexuality. And Terry (Cat Davis), the .5 child, is a test tube baby, genderless and not entirely human, and is both less than and more than her family at the same time.

There's not much plot beyond a day in the life of a "typical" absurdist family. Once night falls, the play follows dream logic as people enter through walls, clothing changes as quickly as moods, and voices come out of the wrong character. Is it the collective dreamscape of all of the characters upstairs asleep in their rooms or something more surreal?

All Night Long
Alina Phelan as Jill
Photo by Darrett Sanders

John Patrick Daly brings charm and a knack for physical comedy to his role as Eddie. Alina Phelan's performance as Jill, the stereotypical sitcom mom, is layered and multifacted, turning on a dime to bring out something savage underneath. When she lashes out, it is cruel and wounding. And that's one of the biggest problems with All Night Long. While the cleverness of the dialogue was at times amusing, much of the humor was mean-spirited, full of long simmering resentment and achingly hard to watch. There is a statement here about America's evolving familial and gender roles, but for an absurdist comedy, I just didn't find it all that funny, and for a play about family, there didn't seem to be much heart at its core. I found the humor about incest triggering and had a hard time enjoying much of anything after that point. These are very different times than the sexually uninhibited, pre-AIDS early 80s when the play was originally produced and in the #MeToo era the implication is hard to take lightly.

All Night Long
Cat Davis, Caroline Klidonas and John Patrick Daly
Photo by Darrett Sanders

Still, there were plenty of laughs in the audience, so clearly some were enjoying it immensely.

All Night Long, presented by the Open Fist Theatre Company and directed by Jan Munroe, plays through Oct 21 at the Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Avenue, Atwater.




Posted By Kathy Flynn on October 03, 2018 04:17 pm | Permalink