If you’re ready for a dramedy with prominent chuckles and scars hidden underneath, then A FAMILY BUSINESS is for you. Playwright Matt Chait has outdone himself as he examines food, the film industry, and two unique families. Matt Chait has spent the greater part of his misbegotten life in the theater and has excelled as an actor, an acting teacher, a playwright, and an entrepreneur who started The Complex and Theatre Row in Los Angeles. Now audiences have the opportunity to see the world premiere of his latest play, A FAMILY BUSINESS, at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre in Los Angeles.
Bruce Nozick, Alli Brown, Eric Stanton Betts, Julie Pearl, Michelle Jasso, and Lindsay Merrithew – Photo by David Haverty
To quote playwright Chait, “There are worlds within our visible world, way too subtle for us to see, and worlds beyond our visible world, way too large for us to even imagine. That’s what I try to impart in my plays; that there is something greater and more wondrous to us and to the whole human experience than the habitual ways in which we have defined ourselves and the people around us.”
Skilled director Brian Shnipper adds that “the dysfunctional family play has been around for, well, forever…we have had arguments due to people feeling unheard or misunderstood… struggled to understand why someone was upset…screamed and hugged…in the end, like all good families, we have come to understand each other and fight for what we believe in.”
Michelle Jasso and Eric Stanton Betts – Photo by David Haverty
And so we are introduced to the Kleins and the Golds. The Kleins are having a very special dinner tonight, one prepared with creativity and love by their daughter Rose (Alli Brown), a talented, budding chef, and her boyfriend Julio (Eric Stanton Betts). Rose’s mother Harmony (Julie Pearl), a spiritual psychologist, and her father Seth (Bruce Nozick), a forever flower child of the sixties, are hosting Julio’s parents, Max Gold (Lindsay Merrithew), the feared, tyrannical, and bombastic head of Gold Studios, and Elena (Michelle Jasso), Max’s beautiful and very clever wife. This is an opportunity for the parents – who might someday turn into in-laws – to meet and greet while wining and dining. What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out, quite a bit – all finely tuned by craftsman Chait.
Julie Pearl and Bruce Nozick – Photo by David Haverty
Director Shnipper helms the show with care, compassion, and an eye to the humor inherent in good drama. He is ably assisted by an excellent cast, with special kudos for the two dads, Seth/Nozick and Max/Merrithew, who just can’t seem to get on the same wavelength. Stephen Gifford’s set design is cozy and looks appropriately lived-in, with Dianne Graebner’s costumes, Matt Richter’s lighting, Ross Chait’s sound, and Michelle Hanzelova’s graphic design adding a certain something to the goings-on. It was a pleasure to have a feel-good ending – although it might also be rather unrealistic, given the conflicted people involved. Of course, a “Part II” might alter that impression.
Eric Stanton Betts and Alli Brown – Photo by David Haverty
A FAMILY BUSINESS will definitely appeal to those of us with family dysfunction built into our genes (and isn’t that everyone?). It is also a fascinating study of what happens when two worlds that couldn’t be more different are forced to collide – and inevitably clash. This is a humorous and entertaining play – and it also has its thought-provoking moments.
Eric Stanton Betts, Alli Brown, Bruce Nozick, Julie Pearl, Michelle Jasso, and Lindsay Merrithew – Photo by David Haverty
A FAMILY BUSINESS runs through December 31, 2023, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays (dark on 12/22, 12/23, and 12/24/23). The Hudson Mainstage Theatre is located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038. Tickets are $35. For information and reservations, go online.