A Mother, a Daughter, and a Gun | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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A Mother, a Daughter, and a Gun


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A Mother, a Daughter, and a Gun, Strawdog Theatre Company.

Other people's pain isn't half as hilarious as playwright Barra Grant imagines. Or at least to make it hilarious would take twice the wit there is here. In this alleged comedy, which somehow won LA's DramaLogue award, family members repeatedly shoot at one another, mostly managing to miss. (Only in America can gunplay seem a hoot.) We're also supposed to chortle over a suicidal daughter, a child-abusing mother who puts the make on her daughter's adulterous husband, the mother's equally unfaithful husband, and a creepy assemblage of stereotypical losers, sad strangers whom the daughter forgot she invited to a (disastrous) party. Seldom have good actors been so wasted in DOA parts. Don't get invited.

Boring when it's not offensive (an eczema-ravaged penis provides fodder for one insult), this script includes jokes about sending a newborn baby down a river if it has six fingers. A Mother, a Daughter and a Gun is a sitcom with no idea how uncomic its situation is or how unbelievably its characters behave. Its sole strength lies in the second act, when the browbeating confessions of the dangerously disturbed daughter (whiningly played by TV star Valerie Landsburg) and the control-freak Jewish mother (Josette Di Carlo, mixing shtick and class) could almost pass for talk therapy. At least Richard Shavzin's revival never drops the energy, even as the script lurches from one dead end to the next. But given these lines, any energy seems the depth of folly.

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