August 20, 2014

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Play review — ‘Don’t Drink the Water’ by Woody Allen PDF Print
Sunday, March 16, 2014 8:07 PM

BY ANNA RUSSELL

 

“Don’t Drink the Water,” a farce written by Woody Allen in the 1960s and set behind the Iron Curtain, remains delightfully fresh today due to television shows such as FX’s The Americans and the current events in the Ukraine.

The play takes place at an American Embassy during the Cold War. Walter Hollander, a caterer from New Jersey, decides to take his family on a vacation to Europe. In their travels, they wind up in an unnamed Eastern European country, where, due to Walter’s mistake (accidentally taking pictures in a high-security area), they take refuge at the American Embassy. While at the Embassy, they encounter eccentric characters such as priest/magician Father Drobney (played by Perry Luhn), the Sultan of Bashir (Charlie Diefenbacher) and Mr. Burns (played by Gene Craft). The family must figure out a way to return home to America without causing an international incident. “All ends well” as the family plans their escape and the two “youngsters” in the show even find time to fall in love.

Directed by Chris Butturff with help from Assistant Director Jane Lianez, it is obvious that the quirky characters portrayed in the comedy were well cast. Newcomer Mac King takes the role of bumbling “Axel Magee,” son of the American Ambassador, and portrays his lovable character with physical comedy to a “T.”

Lima Senior student Jenna Brunk plays the role of “Susan Hollander”, the Hollander family’s adult daughter, with both innocence and maturity.

Veteran actor Steve Lane as New Jersey caterer “Walter Hollander” provides additional comedic relief (“I like my food dead. Not sick, not wounded, dead.”), as does Monica Campbell, the inventive and easily offended embassy chef.

Also up for an honorable mention is Doug Grooms as “Krojack” the Russian officer relentlessly pursuing the Hollanders.

In the end, Don’t Drink the Water is a hilarious and delightful situation comedy. A few lengthy set changes tended to bring down the timing of the production (which will hopefully accelerate) during the run of the show.

Kudos must be given for the well-executed set design (Amy Boley, Jack Boley, Chris Hogan, and Chris Butturff), sound design (Burdette Bolenbaugh), and light design (Amy Boley).

Don’t Drink the Water runs Thursday through Sunday at Van Wert Civic Theatre. Performances start at 8 p.m. with the exception of the 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. For more information, visit www.vwct.org or call the box office at 419-238-9689. Van Wert Civic Theatre is located at 118 S. Race St., Van Wert.

 

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