August 2, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Center Stage: The World Premiere of “Chasing Mem’ries” Lands at the Geffen With a Thud

By Beverly Cohn

 

I might as well get it said from the top. “Chasing Mem’ries,” written and directed by Josh Ravetch, is an unbearable schmaltzy, overly sentimental, soppy play. Billed as “A Different Kind of Musical,” that is an apt sub-heading as this is definitely not a musical, but a dramedy with music and only the compelling performance by Tyne Daly, the grieving widow Victoria, will keep you from snickering at the hackneyed dialogue unfolding on the Geffen stage.

The action takes place in Victoria’s crammed attic, which is filled with mementos reflecting the family history some of which include books written by her recently deceased professor husband Franklin, well played by Robert Forster. Other relics accumulated throughout their 57-year marriage include a high chair, a three-wheel bike, a two-wheel bike, tennis rackets, and family albums which Victoria rummages through and sings an occasional song with Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s eminently forgettable lyrics, but interesting music by Bill Cantos & Mari Falcone, Dave Grusin, Marvin Hamlisch, Michel Legrand, and Johnny Mandel.

Victoria’s son Mason, beautifully brought to life by Scott Kradolfer, repeatedly tries to get his mother to join the around 300 guests assembled on the lawn of their home for Franklin’s memorial service. Victoria has decided not to join the guests and continues to hide out in the attic, where the action begins and ends. Mason tries over and over again to convince his mother to join their guests, some of whom she doesn’t like. She seems to have a particular dislike for a guest named Thelma who apparently showed up at the memorial wearing pumps generally referred to as an invitation to perform a sex act on oneself and sporting a tiara. Although we never actually see Thelma, we conger up a vision of someone dressed to go night clubbing rather than attending a memorial service. The other thing we learn about this unseen character is that she doesn’t have a pleasant singing voice and Victoria absolutely does not want her to sing Alan & Marilyn Bergman’s iconic “The Way We Were.” To engage in conversation, Victoria asks Mason, who is an astronomer, about his fiancé, who is an astronaut, and was recently launched into outer space. She sent him a note from the great beyond that she is breaking up with him because he was at a conference and missed the blast off. What decent boyfriend misses his fiancé’s journey into space? The conversation then segues into Mason confessing that since his childhood was so perfect, and his parents so perfectly happy, he didn’t know how to cope with any problems that might come up in relationships that were less than perfect. What Mason doesn’t know is that his mom is having an ongoing dialogue with his deceased father who constantly appears and disappears, but not really because there he stands as big as life. (Perhaps some “mood” lighting might have rendered those scenes more believable?) Much like Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” the only one who can see the “invisible” ghost is Victoria and when Mason reappears to once again try to convince his mother to leave the attic, Franklin moves upstage to be somewhat out of the picture. Victoria and her dead husband dance and reminisce about their idyllic life together with Victoria declaring that she simply cannot go on without him. In a “win one for the Gipper” moment, Franklin convinces Victoria that she must go one with her life and after shouting amusing instructions through the attic window to the gathered friends below, Victoria musters up her courage and walks down the stairs to face the crowd. The end.

There’s not much to say about the technical elements of the production other than if the script and lyrics matched Tony Fanning’s excellent scenic design, this could have turned out to be a really compelling evening of theatre. But then again, to see Tyne Daly reveal the grief and heartbreak of losing a loved one is worth the price of admission.

The Geffen Playhouse: 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 9002. Run: Tuesday – Friday: 8 p.m.; Saturday: 3 and 8 p.m. ; Sunday: 2 and 7 p.m.; Closing: December 17, 2017. Tickets: $25-$90; Students: $25. 310.208.5454, geffenplayhouse.com

Related Posts

SMhopes Brings Artists Together to Reimagine the Post Pandemic World

July 15, 2021

July 15, 2021

Artist Paula Goldman in collaboration with Santa Monica Art Recovery displays art and poetry by local artists throughout the city....

Marina Drive-In Movie Summer Series Underway

July 9, 2021

July 9, 2021

Gather with your family and friends to watch movies by the sea in Marina del Rey. Marina Drive-In Movie Nights,...

Iconic Aero Theatre on Montana Ave Has Reopened

July 1, 2021

July 1, 2021

American Cinematheque, the nonprofit cultural-arts and film-preservation group has reopened the doors of the Aero theatre on Montana Ave, learn...

Conscious Designs That Drive The Message Home

June 16, 2021

June 16, 2021

“Black Lives Matter” – The rallying cry that went from a hashtag to a global movement, and a designer that...

In-Person Events Are Back with Summer Swing Nights: Jazzy Vocals plus Live Big Band – Now with Tap Dance, Swing Lessons, Vendors to Benefit Museum

June 10, 2021

June 10, 2021

Live, in-person entertainment is bringing out happy fans of all ages for Summer Swing Nights: Drive-In Edition. The concert fundraiser features the...

Ben & Jerry’s Closes Santa Monica Shop

May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021

First West Coast Ben & Jerry’s closes up shop on Main Street  By Kerry Slater Ben & Jerry’s has closed...

Edify TV: A Look Into the Cold War-Era as Wende Museum Reopens

May 11, 2021

May 11, 2021

With relics of the Cold War-era on display, the Wende Museum in Culver City has reopened for in-person visits. Learn...

How to Heal the Soil and Why

May 11, 2021

May 11, 2021

By Andy Lopez We all know how important the vital role the soil plays in your plants’ health, trees, and...

Edify TV: Concert Capacity Rules Issue for Small Venues

May 4, 2021

May 4, 2021

Live music is back in LA County but the owner of a Westside jazz club says reopening will have to...

Santa Monica College Student Film to be Screened at Cannes

April 27, 2021

April 27, 2021

SMC student film “Broken Layers” accepted into The American Pavilion at Cannes By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica College (SMC) student...

Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee’s Annual Commemoration

April 6, 2021

April 6, 2021

Annual event to be held virtually Thursday April 15 Submitted by the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee Standing at...

Film Review: Minari

March 31, 2021

March 31, 2021

MINARIRated PG-13115 MinutesReleased February 26th Amazon Prime, Google Play, DirecTV/ Virtual screening on A24films.comWon Golden Globe – Best Picture Foreign...

Video: Indoor Dining Close to Returning in LA County?

March 4, 2021

March 4, 2021

Indoor dining could return to LA County very soon. Learn more and hear what diners have to say in this...