Review: ‘Too Much Sun’ at ISIS Productions in Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s own Nicky Silver delivers once again with Too Much Sun, a modern play focusing on a family and the drama that comes with a summer house in Cape Cody. The framing, shape, and journey of this play is lovely in the most over-the-top way.

 RJ Magee (Gil), Renee Richman-Weisband (Audrey), and Arlen Hancock (Lucas). Phoot by Kristine DiGrigoli.
RJ Magee (Gil), Renee Richman-Weisband (Audrey), and Arlen Hancock (Lucas). Photo by Kristine DiGrigoli.

Director Neill Hartley orchestrates the constant stream of fluctuation between comedy and drama in this show. Some of the more serious moments of the show seemed a little brushed over considering the weight of the topics addressed, like domestic abuse and suicide. However, the characters stand alone as fully fleshed, true human beings trying to do what they think is right, and luckily for us, constantly being wrong.

Too Much Sun delivers some warmth in this seemingly endless winter. Though Too Much Sun focuses on the carry-ons of egotistical actress Audrey Langham (ISIS Artistic Director Renee Richman-Weisband), the real draw of the show are the secondary characters which her antics unite. By far, the biggest scene stealer is RJ Magee as Gil, the young Assistant to the Audrey’s agent, but aspiring Rabbi. His one-liners never got old and were much needed energy in this story driven piece, as well as a lovely sung Jewish prayer.

Audrey’s Plain-Jane schoolteacher daughter Kitty (Kirsten Quinn) embodies the neurosis and quirks with Mary Louise Parker-like charm. Arlen Hancock plays the troubled, pot-dealing neighbor Lucas; his youthful energy and “stick it to the man” vibe hit the nail on the head. The scenes between Lucas and Kitty’s husband Dennis (Rob Hargraves) are by far the most endearing and connected of the show. Steve Gleichs rounds out the ensemble as Lucas’s supposedly nice father.

The lighting and sound by Bill McKinlay was a very simple. Lights were basically up-down, which was a little confusing in the direct address to the audience in the final scene. The sound was very minimum, lacking phone ringing and transitions except for top and bottom of acts.

The Scenic Design by Rick Miller and Neill Hartley was a simple beach scene, created with fabric dunes, huge rocks, and that all too familiar thin wirey fence recognize instantly belonging to a beach. This neutral setting is used as a general space for the front porch, the beach, and a stage successfully.

Bobby Fabulous’ costumes made me want to take a trip to the beach in style. With Lucas’s cut off jean shorts and flip flops, Audrey’s ostentatious flowing gowns, and Kitty’s strange patterns indicate their personalities very clearly.

Rob Hargraves (Dennis )and Arlen Hancock (Lucas). Photo by Kristine DiGrigoli.
Rob Hargraves (Dennis) and Arlen Hancock (Lucas). Photo by Kristine DiGrigoli.

While one expects snafus in live theater, the seemingly endless late seating was distracting in an extremely small space. I recommend reserving some seats for late seating to make everyone’s experience a little easier, so everyone can enjoy the show.

12241394_779644325491441_4376487548544263108_nWhile Too Much Sun will be relatable to anyone with a family, it is especially entertaining for those of us in the industry. The constant theatre jokes, references, and puns entertain almost as much as the plot. Housed in a convenient Center City location with family antics, plot twists, and fun jokes, sit, back, relax, and grab a little Sun!

Running Time: One hour and 45 minutes, with one intermission.

ISIS Productions’ Too Much Sun plays through March 27, 2016 at the Walnut Studio 5 at Walnut Street Theatre – 825 Walnut Street, in Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call (609) 220-7537, or purchase them online.

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Rachel Beecher
Hailing from Boiling Springs, PA. Rachel Beecher is currently a writer, teaching artist, and stage manager working and residing in Philadelphia, PA. Rachel first caught the theater bug at the young age of 8 and has been working in the industry since. She is a proud Temple Owl; in 2015, she received her BA in Theater with a minor in English and is currently a graduate student in the English Education program. She has worked with Mauckingbird Theatre Company, Arden Theatre Company, Allenberry Playhouse, and Saratoga Shakespeare Company just to name a few. She looks forward to writing about all of the amazing theater going on right here in her own backyard on DCMetroTheaterArts!