Review – “never a dull moment” in SUNDAY DINNER

Have you even known a family that was so dysfunctional that every member, interesting in themselves, come together in an amusing, if appalling, way? Such a family comes from the life experience, augmented by imagination, of playwright Tony Blake in Sunday Dinner, who also directs this fine cast.

The occasion is the homecoming to the Matera family of son Michael for the events surrounding the death of the patriarch. Sisters Rose (Sharron Shayne) and Margaret (Michelle Schultz) preside over the spacious family apartment in the Bronx, while husband, Eddie (John Combs) seems to be the odd man out. The guests — sons Richie (a deliciously smarmy Kevin Linehan) and Flip (Dennis Hadley) from various mothers, and Richie’s ex-wife, Diane (Meghan Lloyd) — are on hand to greet Michael (James Tabeek), an uneasy, young priest who has not been home in six years.

And those are just the participants! The family springs to life, with Playwright Blake’s intricate machinations, as one stunning revelation follows another. There is never a dull moment in the Matera family, and you’ll be entertained until the dinner is in shambles.

Typical of Theatre 40’s best work, this cast works so well together, you’d think they were the actual family. Richie may be annoying, but he’s perceptive; while Rose takes the prize for selfishness. Few families could survive the extent of these revelations; mercifully there is redemption by the end the evening.

Built on Theatre 40’s home stage, set designer Jeff G. Rack has utilized the wide stage to set up two rooms, sometimes violated by the actors, who love center stage, although it is the demarcation line. Sound, by Joe “sloe” Slawinski, is appropriately subtle, and costumes by Michele Young demonstrate family relationships. The serviceable lighting is designed by both Brandon Baruch and Gregory Crafts.