Inola @ TheatreLab for VISITING HOURS

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“Visiting Hours,” written by Joshua Kaplan, directed by Dina Vovsi; stage managed by Ryan Keller; starring Richarda Abrams, Adam Bemis, Amy Gaipa, Michael Grew, Karen Tsen Lee, Maureen Shannon, Joel Stigliano, and Dan Grimaldi.

DSCF9403The audience sees Jonah and the nurse as they enter the waiting area of a hospital, and he makes himself useful in the lobby area.  He moves and organizes a few magazines from the floor and on the stand, and he places them in the rack.  He also adjusts a picture frame on the wall.  The doctor approaches Jonah and he gives him an update on his mother, Linda’s medical condition.  In Linda’s case, the grim reaper is on his way for her.  Jonah becomes agitated with the doctor’s remarks, but the nurse’s kindness makes a better impression with him.  She helps to make his time at the facility pleasant, and she offers him the opportunity to use the LAN line to make his telephone calls.  The nurse allows him to see his mother who lies motionless on her hospital bed, and she sings the theme song for the Broadway show Oklahoma.

Jonah explains to the nurse that his mother is a serial complainer.  Jonah claims that if his mother were able to communicate at that moment, she would have complained about everything and the nurse, too.  Jonah continues to reveal himself to the nurse, and he tells her all about his mother’s reaction when he made his sexuality known to her.  He states that after his coming out, his mother sent him a list of all of the sexually transmitted diseases that relate to his lifestyle.

Soon after, Meredith, Jonah’s sister, arrives at the facility; and she brings her male friend, Zack, with her.  He assures her to be calm before she sees her brother and mother.  Meredith enters her mother’s room and she and Jonah begin to argue about her coming to the nursing home, and she walks out of the room.  Zack kicks the garbage container accidentally before he confronts Jonah about his behavior towards his sister before he picks up the garbage.  Jonah seems unaffected by Zack’s comments.

DSCF9073Linda’s ex-husband, Stanley, and his new wife, Cindy, enter the waiting room with hospital gowns in their hands.  Stanley puts on his gown over his clothes, and he enters Linda’s room.  The audience witnesses an awkward reunion among a fractured family.  Stanley cuts his time in the room short and he leaves the room.  Stanley’s presence in the waiting area forces Cindy to take action, and she goes into the room to see Linda in her dying bed.  Jonah is livid and he leaves the room.

Cindy says her Buddhist’s chant in Linda’s hospital room as Stanley, Meredith, and Zack talk in the room.  After, Cindy takes Meredith and Zack out of the room with her.  She wants Stanley to get an opportunity to settle things with his ex-wife on her death bed.  The audience witnesses when he talks about their blame game, and he reminds himself that she still scare the shit out of him while she is sick and in a coma.  He gives her the 4-1-1 about their old friends, and he reminisce about their trip to California and their meeting of Ray Charles while they were in the state.

Cindy, Meredith and Zack come back to the room with coffee.  In a few minutes later, Jonah comes back with a folder, and he tells them all about what he can do to get rid of all of the people in the room except his sister, Meredith.  They move to the lobby!  Meredith and Zack sit in the room.  Jonah and Stanley look at television in the lobby, and Cindy does her Yoga on the floor.  Stanley and Jonah argue with each other about not seeing each other in 15 years.  Cindy assures Jonah that he’s welcome to visit them at their home.

The nurse wants to change her patient, Linda.  Jonah and Stanley exchange pleasantries over the real reason why he left the family.  Jonah concludes that his father was not thrown out of their home by his mother, but he left the family on his own accord.  There were too many packed boxes, so Jonah summarizes that the move was an orchestrated one on his father’s part.

The doctor returns to consult with the family, and he informs them about Linda’s wishes with a signed document.  Meredith and Stanley become irate with Jonah, and they leave in order to find him.  Cindy and the nurse get the opportunity to bond about family crises in the hospital.  The family discusses Linda’s situation, and Stanley agrees with Jonah; and Meredith becomes upset with them.  Jonah looks at the television as a distraction.  Meredith leaves and she returns to the waiting room.

The audience looks at Meredith and Jonah as they talk about what ails the family.  Jonah forces Meredith to come clean and let him know the reason for her resentment towards him.  Meredith’s response shakes the core of the audience.  She states that the family was wholesome before he came along.  Jonah pushes his sister for the truth, her honesty; and she tells him how his birth broke the family apart.  Jonah learns that he had taken all of the oxygen out of the room for a very long time.

Meredith unburdens herself and it enables her to see things clearer.  She gives her mother a manicure, and she fixes her up with all of her jewelry and make up.  She talks to her mother as she makes her pretty, and she pulls the drapes around her bed.  In the meantime, Jonah and Zack chitchat in the lobby, and Jonah doesn’t want to answer Zack’s questions.  Zack talks about the death of his mother, and Jonah contemplates on his next move for he doesn’t know much about himself.  Jonah goes to his mother’s room, and he assists his sister, Meredith, to put the finishes touches on their mother.  Jonah shows his sister that their mother’s locket on the chain has Meredith’s picture in it.  Meredith reminisces about her pre-teen competition in the Chappaqua Beauty Pageant in New York State.

The audience witnesses how these two squabbling siblings conduct a sensible conversation while dressing their mother.  Jonah plays his voicemail and he listens to his mother’s message with her usual complaints.  Jonah wants the family to stay in the room, for he agrees to pull the plug on his mother.  It’s the nurse’s job to pull the plug.  The members of the family say their goodbyes to Linda.  The nurse checks the monitor in the room.  Linda dies on her own!  There is no need for the pulling of the plug.  They sing the theme song of the show Oklahoma, and Jonah lets the others know how he hates the song.  Meredith takes on the responsibility to bury her mother, and she wants to know why her mother called her Joseph.  Her father Stanley tells Meredith that her mother was in love with Joseph McCarthy, former American senator.  Jonah, says he wrote to Ronald Reagan.  The family settles their differences and Jonah stays a little longer in the room with his mother’s body.  Cindy enters the room to see Linda’s body, and Jonah startles her.

The writer gets his message across to the audience, for it witnesses the dysfunctional behavior among Stanley, Jonah and Meredith.  Zack and Cindy realize the foolishness between the siblings.  The end of Linda’s life brings some closure to the animosity between her children.  In Stanley’s case, he finds refuge with his second wife, Cindy.

The reviewer’s point of view:  Some people enjoy being foolish as in Jonah’s case.  He has a perverse disposition that allows him to suck all of the oxygen out of the room.  In the end, Jonah comes to his senses and the audience witnesses a tidbit of redemption in his mannerism.  In Meredith’s case, she reminds me of a poor little rich girl who had suffered from the negative complaints’ of her mother.

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