Written and directed by Brian Schwartz and Karen Snyder, Interconnected tells the twisted and complex story of three intertwined families. It is ripe with dramatic turns worthy of the soap operas but with the added benefit of being funny.
The show’s humor is based on the fact that it is simply a tale of family problems and drama, so we can all relate because, let’s face it, every family is crazy.
Every family has that screw-up who never could seem to get his or her life together. Every family has an obsessive, controlling member. Every family has that overprotective, overextended mother. And the families of Interconnected share those elements as well.
Sarah O’Donnell is the matriarch of the O’Donnell family. She is played by Amee Walden who was excellent. The emotion she brought to the character sold it completely as a determined, worried mother who is dealing with the recent death of her husband and trying to stay strong for her children. Her sons, Aaron and Justy, played by Alexander Gheesling and Anthony Papastrat respectively, are also excellent. Papastrat was refreshingly goofy as the 17-year-old child who hates studying but he was also adept at portraying his serious side. Gheesling was also great at being a protective older brother, an angry son, and a confused lover.
Brian Shell played Ezra Sander, Sarah’s brother and uncle to her sons. He is never really able to get his life together and Shell embodies that unsettled personality wonderfully. Particularly at the beginning as he drunkenly stumbles around stage and throws up, his voice and mannerisms perfectly represent that middle-aged character who still acts like a child.
Miranda Robbins plays Sam Lewis, the girl who is talking with Justy. Robbins is excellent at being the emotionally sturdy, mature teen at the beginning of the play and equally excellent when she falls apart towards the end. Her mother, played by Sue Schaffel, has the swagger and talk of a diner waitress and one of those great mothers who is just too busy. It’s a wonderful performance.
Jennifer Berry plays Dorothy Selling and Ciaran Farley plays her sister, Shelley Selling. Farley, as the obsessive, controlling sister is brilliant. Berry, as the lost, passionate and emotional sister is also brilliant. She was competently worried when she needed to be, and capably affectionate and romantic when she needed to be. Hers was maybe the most dynamic character and she truly brought it to life.
Stage Manager Jimmy Holt created a simple stage. The whole thing was done with just one big table and a few chairs and stands. Between each of the short scenes, the cast would quickly and discreetly move around the furniture to create a new environment. I do wish they had been a little faster and more discreet. For example, each time the chairs were made to be a couch, a blanket was draped over them. Forgoing the blanket could have saved lots of time and the result would have required barely more imagination from the audience.
Interconnected is funny and relatable, despite its crooked and soap-opera-esque plot twists. If you’re into that kind of incestualized drama, this is definitely the play for you. And even if you’re not, you’ll get a kick out of the family dynamics with which we can all relate.
Running Time: 80 minutes, with no intermission.
Interconnected plays through Saturday, July 25, 2-15 at Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Sprenger Theatre – 1333 H Street, NE Washington, DC. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit their Capital Fringe page.