Laugh Your Heart Out (While Losing Your Pants)
By: Joanne Briana-Gartner, May 1, 2012
DANIEL FONTNEAU/CCFTA - Karen McPherson, as Mama Polizziano, teaches her sons Sal (left, played by Brian Dudley) and Joey (played by Jim Gallagher) a lesson in "Losing Your Pants," playing weekends at the Cotuit Center for the Arts through May 20.
A warm family comedy that's funny and heartfelt, Losing Your Pants is as intimate as the space in which it is performed, at the Cotuit Center for the Art's Black Box Theater.
With a large cast and several sub-plots going at once, Losing Your Pants runs the risk of collapsing under its own weight. Luckily, it doesn't.
In this ambitious play, written by Fran DeVasto and directed by P.J. McKey, both of Wellfleet, relationships are explored, conflicts arise and are resolved, and the play moves along briskly.
If you go...
Losing Your Pants
Performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 4 PM through May 20.Cotuit Center for the Arts Black Box Theater
4409 Falmouth Road (Route 28), Cotuit
Tickets are $12 and may be purchased online by calling (508) 428-0669.
The box office will open a half-hour prior to showtime. Latecomers will not be seated.
Joey, played by Jim Gallagher of Forestdale, is the play's main character. Likable and easygoing, he runs his father's taxi business and lives with his wife and teenaged son in the house where he grew up.
The trouble begins when Joey's extended family arrives, one at a time, for the wedding of his sister Angie (Deanna Dziedzina). When Angie shows up, the family is surprised to learn that she is "in the family way."
Lisa Jo Rudy of Falmouth plays Joey's pragmatic wife who takes in stride being called "The Irish" by the family matriarch, Mama Polizziano (Karen McPherson of Chatham), who plays her role with gusto.
When she's not feeding or scolding her children, Mama communes with her dead husband, Vincenzo (George Beninghof), who can only be seen by her (and the audience). Vincenzo tries to help Mama adjust to changes: "It's the new way now," he tells her.
Light-hearted life lessons
Like any family, the Polizziano family has its minor problems, but they are easily and humorously dealt with. It's obvious that there's genuine love between all the family members, even when an elder calls Joey's teenaged son, Pat (Austin Keane of Cotuit), a bum for wearing saggy pants.
"I just want to be different. Like everybody else," Pat explains to his dad when questioned about his droopy drawers.
There are plenty of funny moments in “Losing Your Pants,” with much of the comic relief provided by Yarmouthport’s Brian Dudley as Sal, Joey's nervous brother who spends the entire play in a padded bra because he's convinced the mafia is after him and he needs a disguise.
Paul Widegren of Harwich is funny in the straight-guy role of Tom, an FBI agent who is a former classmate of Joey's—and a one-time rival for his wife's affections. In one scene, he holds his FBI badge up to the telephone receiver when placing a call to the police—and no, it was not a Smartphone.
Pants are optional
The set is a comfortable living room strewn with magazines, knick-knacks on the shelves, and lots of family photos. Kudos to the Photoshop artist who merged a photo of a younger Pat with a picture of the rest of the cast to make a complete family photo.
I took the show's title to have two meanings. The first is literal as several characters do, for various reasons, lose their pants; the other refers to letting your guard down, which is something we sometimes feel comfortable doing only around family.
"Nothing's more important than family," says Mama Polizziano on more than one occasion. That old but true sentiment will stick with you long after the lights come up.