“Hilariously Zany Justin Tanner’s “Day Drinkers” at the Odyssey Theatre
At The Theatre with Audrey Linden
If you want to laugh until your sides hurt, you have to see Justin Tanner’s latest gem of a comedy, “Day Drinkers” at the Odyssey Theatre. The world premiere of his play is brilliantly directed by Bart DeLorenzo. His swift direction doesn’t miss a beat. He directs his ensemble cast of eight at a fast clip with a staccato-like delivery of their lines. The combination of Tanner’s fine writing, an ensemble of actors who are regulars in Tanners’ productions and incredible directing make for a helluva funny evening about “love on the rocks.” I last saw Tanner’s “Voice Lessons,” and I had to see that play twice. It was so funny. I may have to see this one again too.
Gary Guidinger’s seedy small-town bar sets the scene for the wacky ensemble cast of eight very talented performers to comfortably move in and out. He gives us a dark, well equipped bar with a counter, and stools, a few red round tables and chairs, two hanging bar lamps and a Stroh’s neon sign.
I could not single out any one performance. All eight of the performers are excellent and are great at physical comedy and at delivering Tanner’s lines perfectly. Kudos to Cody Chappel, Melissa Denton, Tom Fitzpatrick, Maile Flanagan (who was in “Voice Lessons”), Danielle Kennedy, Todd Lowe, Jonathan Palmer, and Chloe Taylor who shine in this 75 minute comedy.
All of the “day drinkers,” who drink their Eggs Benedict on the rocks starting at nine in the morning, are in relationships that are less than perfect. Well, these characters are less than perfect. They drink. They flirt. They drink. They bicker. And, then some. They fight. They drink some more. They make up. Some don’t. And, in the process, they make us laugh hysterically at their foibles.
The play opens with Mick (adroitly acted by Tom Fitzpatrick, whom I recently saw in “Margo Veil”) banging and banging on the door. It’s after 9 A. M. on a Sunday morning, and our young proprietor, Daniel overslept. Mick’s not better half is his fiancé du jour, Val. Danielle Kennedy’s Val is a trailer trash gal if there ever was one. This four or five time married gal is right out of a trailer park and lives in her Winnebago. Her life is like an “I Love Lucy” sit-com. And yes, Mick is her Ricky. She pawned Mick’s $7,500 engagement ring for all of sixty-five dollars. Would you believe someone took it off her finger while she was sleeping? Well, Mick didn’t either and is rather upset.Val accuses him of using “waterboard” techniques. Besotted Mick cashed in one of his IRA’s and his ner do well son, Bradley is coming from Arizona to check out Val and take care of his spendthrift dad. Kennedy’s Val gets a lot of priceless off color lines.
Proprietor Daniel and his wife, Jenny sleep in separate beds and are having a sexless marriage. Then, we have Kate, played by Melissa Denton, with a marvelous dry wit, and Sharon, the ever-delightful Maile Flanagan. These lesbians drop in for a stiff drink to fortify them. They are on the way to Lodi for their annual visit to Kate’s highly judgmental parents. Sharon is dreading the trip. She has gotten two compliments from Kate’s parents. “I like your truck.” “You can really hold your liquor.” The conservative Bradley quips that meeting a lesbian in his world is “a rare occurrence like meeting a leprechaun.” Bradley, well played by Jonathan Palmer, is out to “separate old dad from his money” and have him declared incompetent so Mick can’t “burn through his grandkids inheritance.” Daniel’s brother, Caleb, unexpectedly shows up and throws a wrench in Daniel’s marriage. How will all of these bickering couples resolve their issues? You almost don’t care because their bickering is so funny and we are getting a lot of laughs out of their dysfunctional behavior. It’s the “Cheers” group, except these folks are 100% proof.
Justin Tanner does resolve their issues and he gives endings that tie things up and satisfy. He might leave you hanging as to Mick and Val. I think you can imagine your own ending for them. I did. Alcohol frees their tongues so these characters go two fingers deep on the rocks to speak their minds in this Coors Light kinda evening. Bartender, gimme another round. “Day Drinkers” is delightfully refreshing and absolutely funny. It is a “must see” Justin Tanner play. Good comedy like this is addicting.
“Day Drinker” runs through October 9th at the Odyssey Theatre at 2055 S. Sepulveda Bl. L A 90025. For show times and tickets call 310-477-2055. Deborah Zoe Laufer’s comedy, “End Days” is running in tandem.
Audrey Linden is a writer, actress and singer. She can be seen in a long-running “Associated Tax Resolution” commercial, two “Little Caesars’” spots, “Tough Love2,” “America’s Court With Judge Ross,”
Spike T V’s “1000 Ways to Die,” a “Teva International Pharmacy” short, the comedy pilot, “Ghost Recon,” and Gene Simmons’ “Family Jewels.” Audrey teaches On Camera Commercials through the City of Beverly Hills, Roxbury Park at BHHS 241 Moreno Dr., B H 90212. Her next class is in October. For class information, call 310-285-6850 or email to [email protected]