© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bob Goepfert Reviews "Kalamazoo" At Adirondack Theatre Festival

GLENS FALLS:    The play “Kalamazoo” which is at Adirondack Theatre Festival in Glens Falls through Saturday is a delightful and funny play that is also quite wise.

It’s a touching comedy that offers a refreshing take on a familiar story.   Though extremely entertaining, it makes you think about the characters long after the 75-minute production is over.  

What could sound like the pilot for a tv sit-com ends up touching you in ways you might not expect. Two seventy-somethings meet on line, go out to dinner, drink too much and wake up in a motel together the next morning.  Where have we heard that before?

Adding to the familiar, they are nearly complete opposites. Irving is an outgoing Jewish man who has a great sense of humor.  Peg is an Irish Catholic who is naïve and straight-laced.  This gives plenty of opportunities to offer ethnic and fish-out-of-water jokes as the play establishes the awkwardness the couple in a predictable manner.

However, once the easy jokes are made and the audience is comfortable with the situation - something changes.   Stereotypes become real people.

What makes the play more than a shallow comedy is that rather than dwell on the opposite natures of Peg and Irving, the play focuses on what each person has in common.   Those things include a long happy marriage to a person who has recently passed away and the fear of committing to another human being in an emotional way.  

Essentially Irving and Peg are afraid of commitment, which makes them the same as almost every other couple not matter their age.  However, it is their age that gives the play a sense of uniqueness.  Because they are intelligent people they believe Irv’s mantra “You are never too old to be young” and they realize happiness take work and demands risk.

If you are a person the same general age as the characters it is comforting to see older people played as vital human beings with fears, desires, conflicts, and – most of all sensitivity and courage.     If you are younger it is joyful to see people who refuse to die before they are declared dead.

To be clear, “Kalamazoo” is a play about older characters; it is not a play about issues exclusive to the elderly.  Falling in love, fighting off nay-sayers, forgetting and forgiving the past and living in the present are issues pertinent to every age and generation.  Indeed, the take-away emotion for younger audiences should be hopefulness.    If two deserving people like Irving and Peg can find happiness together – it’s available to everyone.

The ATF production is supportive of the deceptively simple nature of the work.  Both Ken Farrell and Kate Braun capture the sweet, unassuming natures of each character without ever depreciating their sincerity of the pair.   Chad Rabinovitz directs the play with the same ease as he wisely refuses to add unnecessary weight to the situation.  

Indeed, “Kalamazoo” is the perfect example of the theater adage that less is more.  If the writing, performance or direction attempted to add serious drama to the situation it would seem pretentious.

As it exists now it is a delightful story about two real people who believe in themselves and the future. 

“Kalamazoo” plays 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday at the Charles Wood Theatre in Glens Falls.  For tickets and information 518-480-4878. 

Bob Goepfert is the arts editor for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

Related Content