by Sid Simon

Florida Rep has a 4 Star show on the boards. They have truly done justice to A.R. Gurney’s best play, “The Cocktail Hour.” You’ll  know it from the minute you enter the theater and see the set.

What other theater puts so much into the production values? Where else would you see such columns in the living room, an heirloom Secretary desk and hutch, and a stuffed couch and chairs  worthy of the Antiques Road Show?  Perfect  to create the time and place of the play.  

Then we get four actors who mine the depths of this intense play like the pros they are, and make it one of  the most satisfying evenings in my season so far. This is one you will not want to miss. Full houses are making tickets go fast.  Don’t waste time. Call the box office immediately.  239.322.4488.

The writing is to be celebrated, certainly.  There’s not a wasted line in it. There is glorious wit and humor. And a courageous facing of things that rip families apart.

The content is something that matters. Families. Siblings.  Pecking order.  And always the privileges, and where money comes into  that carefully drawn WASP conventionality these people live in.  Where servants are disposable commodoties.

There is a father who is confronted by one of his sons. Peter Thomasson and Brendan Powers nail those roles brilliantly.  There’s not a dull moment as they face the issues of what separate them. The son, John, has written a play that clearly opens up some things that shake up what’s covered up. Then, there is some of Gurney’s best writing reserved for the mother, played by Carrie Lund giving us one of her most winning roles. The sister played by Kate Hampton is right up there with the superb quality of the rest of them. No one in that  audience will fall asleep at this play.

My final kudos go to the absolutely genius direction of Chris Clavelli. Given a great script  he produced a superb, absolutely thrilling rendition that could serve as a model for any future showings of  “The Cocktail Hour.”   How he moves the actors, physically, how he stages all those cocktails, and builds to the one liners, just thrilled me.  You will always remember what he had Carrie do with her bracelet, and how he gave Kate that center stage moment where she says “I will.” 

I’ll say this to close. Florida Rep gave me what I go to theater for.Top flight performances and direction in a play by a gifted playwright that addressed important issues, with believable confrontations and an absence of any cuteness or farce, and still, laughter a plenty.  Go see for yourself.  Other people have agreed.  They’ve had to extend the run. Call, fast. And enjoy it the way I did.