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Theater Review: "You Can't Take It With You" At The Antaeus Company

Sara Itkis |
October 23, 2012 | 7:32 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


The "Kirby" cast of "You Can't Take It With You" at Antaeus.
The "Kirby" cast of "You Can't Take It With You" at Antaeus.
“You Can’t Take It With You:” a play aptly named after an idiom that, summed up, means that we will all die sooner or later, and we won’t be taking our physical possessions with us into the next world. We may as well live our lives to the fullest, enjoy ourselves, and love the ones we’re with—and why worry about anything else! This life outlook has been earnestly adopted by the Sycamore family of the aforementioned play, who live a carefree life pursuing their diverse hobbies, including playwriting, rocket-making, dancing, and printing. The Antaeus Company’s double-cast production of this comedy, written by George Kaufman and Moss Hart, and directed by Gigi Bermingham, conveys the heartwarming atmosphere of the Sycamore home beautifully, making the audience feel like they, too, are a part of the family. 

When Alice Sycamore, the oldest daughter and the most grounded of the eccentric Sycamores, falls in love with her boss’s son, Tony Kirby Jr., the two families must meet. The Kirbys, whose lives revolve around money and Wall Street, and who are nothing if not conventional, are quite the opposite of the Sycamores. The two worlds collide and chaos ensues, accompanied by exploding firecrackers, broken glasses, armed government officials, and spontaneous wrestling matches.

All of this transpires within the living room of the Sycamore home (designed by Tom Buderwitz), which is pleasantly cluttered and crowded. With a small table that barely fits the entire family, walls plastered in various posters, and random objects of unknown significance planted in every nook and cranny—including a skull-shaped candy bowl, the set expresses the Sycamore attitude to a tee. Finding themselves in this cluttered space, the casts nevertheless move about freely, making the set feel lived-in and familiar. 

The "Sycamores" cast.
The "Sycamores" cast.
In fact, familiarity is what both the casts, going by the appropriate titles of "Sycamores" and "Kirbys," convey best. No matter their differences, in both character and in performance, the comfort and warmth that the members of the Sycamore family feel for each other is unmistakable. There certainly are, however, differences in the performances within both casts, especially within the "Sycamore" cast. While some characters are more toned down and comedic in subtler ways, other characters over-dramatize their lines to an unnecessary extent in an attempt to achieve comedy, but as a result they draw too much attention to themselves and thus pull the audience out of the play. For a company that prides itself on the exceptional quality of its actors, it is disappointing to feel as though some cast members are acting on different wavelengths. Add in the stumbled line here and the wrong name there, and the Antaeus reputation is certainly being called into question. 

Nevertheless, the chemistry is there when it is most needed; both Kate Maher and Nicholas D’Agosto of the "Sycamores" and Lizzie Zerebko and Jeremy Glazer of the "Kirbys" make an adorable, heart-melting couple as Alice and Tony. Shannon Holt of the "Kirbys" is hilarious as both the stuffy Mrs. Kirby and the colorful Grand Duchess, while Eve Gordon of the "Sycamores" is huggable perfection as the loving, scatterbrained Penny Sycamore. 

All in all, Antaeus's "You Can't Take It With You" is simply a classic, feel-good comedy about appreciating the people around us and pursuing our own bliss—no more, no less. With the colorful set and an even more colorful cast of characters, including a Czarist Russian, an Italian ex-delivery man, a drunk actress, and others, what more could one want?

Reach reporter Sara Itkis here.



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