Charming story of family foibles

Families - they care for us, they love us to bits and they drive us crazy.

The Fortune's new comedy features an Italian-American family in Hoboken, New Jersey, and centres on 30ish Nick (Byron Coll), whose geographically immediate family consists of his four grandparents (Karen Elliot, Simon O'Connor, Steven Ray and Jane Waddell), whom he sees every week. Overwhelmingly nice, though increasingly frail, they spoil him rotten.

One day Nick is offered his dream promotion - to Seattle. What's the grown-up thing to do?

If he goes, what will happen to his romantic attraction to Caitlin (Nadya Shaw Bennett), of whom the grandparents so heartily approve?

Which matters more, tradition or independence?Written in the 1990s, Joe DiPietro's play doesn't have much depth or bite, but it does have loads of charm. This is the Fortune's first play directed by its new artistic director, Jonathan Hendry.

The production is well-paced and sensitively nuanced, and the six actors work well and lovably together with (as far as I could tell) impeccable New Jersey accents.

Peter King's set reminds us of our grandparents' homes - the patterned carpets, the '70s wallpaper, the good furniture, which includes a sofa still in its plastic wrapping.

Maryanne Wright-Smythe's costumes are, as always, spot-on, from Caitlin's simple, pretty outfits to grandfather Nunzio's tucked-in polo shirt and grandmother Aida's pinny.

On Saturday night the theatre was full, and everyone seemed happy.

Unpretentious and undemanding, Over the River & Through the Woods celebrates family, love and food and will appeal to people of all ages, including those who can't quite remember things but get there after minutes of tenuous connections.

Funny, poignant and sad, it will give you lots of warm fuzzies - but take a hanky, just in case.

- Barbara Frame 


Over the River & Through the Woods

Fortune Theatre Saturday, June 11 



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