You Can´t Take It With You

REVIEW by Willard Manus

This Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman screwball comedy is one shy of seventy (it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1936)--and it shows its age. Revived at the Geffen's Brentwood Theatre in a handsome production (lavish set & costumes) directed by Christopher Hart (the co-author's son), the play just isn't that funny this time around. Blame the text and maybe the direction, not the actors, all 18 of whom work diligently to breathe life into the proceedings, especially Dagney Kerr as Essie, the dance-mad daughter; Alxandra James as her love-smitten sister; and Lisa Richards as their scatty, culture-vulture mother. But expecting to get laughs by simply uttering the word sex or Relief (read Welfare) just doesn't cut it any more, and neither does the episodic storyline, which zigzags all over the place and never gains much narrative steam. Bringing in one thinly-drawn, oddball minor character after another--sometimnes all at once-- comes off as less than hilarious too. Could be we've seen one too many sitcoms, a genre which YOU CAN'T inadvertently (and regrettably?) spawned.

Brentwood Playhouse (on the V.A. grounds), 11301 Wilshire Blvd. (310) 206-5454.