Theatre Palisades’ ‘In-laws, Outlaws’ Provides Solid Fun

By Laurel Busby
Staff Writer

Light, warm-hearted and filled with good-humored chaos, Theatre Palisades’ newest offering, “In-laws, Out- laws and Other People (That Should be Shot)” is an apt gift for the holiday season.

The story takes place at the annual Christmas Eve party of a Brooklyn family who get on each other’s nerves and love to tell each other so. The bickering and wisecracks are non-stop as the family spars not only with one another, but also with two thieves who take them hostage and an ever-increasing number of neighbors who happen onto the shenanigans.

The play, written by Steve Franco, opens with level-headed father (Jonathan Fahn), the calm, matter-of-fact everyman, preparing the house with his sharp-tongued teenage daughter, Beth (Tessa Marks), the family’s rapid-fire jokester. As the two prepare the house for the party, he asks her, “What is it about our family you don’t like?” She snaps back, “It would be faster to tell you what I do like.”

And when the rest of the family arrives during an intense snowstorm, it’s easy to see what Beth means. Her “redneck” uncle, Bud (Andrew Margolin), from New Jersey, tends to be crude and a bit full of himself, while his wife, Bunny (Laura Goldstein), seems determined to point out that her teenage daughter, the sullen Tracy (Sierra Laurin Parsons), is a bit brighter and better prepared for college than Beth.

Uncle Leo (Mitch Feinstein) and Aunt Rose (Sue Hardie), on couch, and Bud (Andrew Margolin), Bunny (Laura Goldstein) and Dad (Jonathan Fahn) are taken aback by the rudeness of party crashers Tony (Eric Pierce) and Vinny (Cruz Flores). Photo: Joy Daunis

Both have colorful ways of expressing themselves. For example, on arrival, Bud comments, “It’s slick as a whale turd out there,” and Bunny later provides a graphically ridiculous description of slaughtering a pig that has vegetarian Beth gagging. The impossibly clueless Aunt Rose (Sue Hardie) and her critical, gruff husband, Uncle Leo (Mitch Feinstein), are intended to be the final dinner guests.

But strangers and neighbors keep the event from becoming the predictable annual bickerfest. The strangers, brash, nervous Tony (Eric Pierce) and mellow, warm Vinny (Cruz Flores), take the dinner party hostage when their getaway car stops working after a robbery. However, the hapless thieves may just have happened upon the wrong house as they quickly realize this crew may be more than a match for them with the in- cessant argumentativeness and lack of respect for what it means to be hostages.

And then there are the neighbors who happen by and get stuck: the flirtatious nuisance Mrs. Draper (Darcy Silveira), the scowling blue-haired punk Paul (Jeff DeWitt), his girl-next-door sister Emily (Hayley Dixon), and their grandmother Mrs. Wakowski (Lois Bostwick). Eventually, Beth’s mother, Janet (Terri Parks), who had been delayed by the storm, joins the scene.

A true ensemble piece, the play revels in good-natured silliness and is designed not to provoke serious thought, but instead provide Christmas cheer with one-liners, warmth and an embrace of each character’s foibles. The cast, directed by Ria Parody Erlich, sail into the fast-paced dialog and welcoming sentiment with verve, and the set’s meticulously detailed living and dining rooms (designed by William Pitcher and Sherman Wayne) provide a world-class backdrop for the antics.

“In-laws, Outlaws and Other People (That Should be Shot),” produced by Sylvia Grieb and Pat Perkins, plays through December 10 at Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Rd. Tickets: $20 for adults and $18 for seniors and students. For more information, call 310-454-1970 or visit

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