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Review: 'A Family for All Occasions' is intense

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 13, 2013 at 4:10 pm •  Published: May 13, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — Even the most ordinary-seeming family can get hit by the butterfly effect, a concept in chaos theory where one small change can have huge consequences.

For the not-so-happy blue-collar family depicted in Bob Glaudini's new play, "A Family for All Occasions," their butterfly effect is set in motion by the arrival of an unlikely suitor for the oldest daughter.

Labryinth Theater Company is world-premiering a brief run of the intense, layered drama, directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman at the intimate Bank Street Theater.

Glaudini ("Jack Goes Boating") and the versatile Hoffman explore some disturbing effects of familial love, or lack of it, that quietly impact and wear down family members over the years. Gently comedic moments abound, but the general tone is serious, and there's an undercurrent of repressed anger that explodes in a most unlikely way.

The head of this family, retired electrician Howard, (an excellent, nuanced performance by Jeffrey DeMunn), is a reader and a lover of big-band music. Howard makes excuses for his disrespectful, spoiled, almost-adult children and tries to placate his cranky wife, May. "Stay on the sunny side," he hopefully wishes her each morning as she stomps un-sunnily off to work.

Deirdre O'Connell, somewhat restrained here, is brusque and fairly grim as May, Howard's unlikely second wife. She met and married him almost 20 years ago after his first wife abandoned the family. Their mother's departure has negatively affected both children and continues to mystify Howard. Given his pleasant, poetic and talkative nature, it's also a mystery how he and the inarticulate May have stayed together.

The whole family is generally uncommunicative with one another. Sam (Charlie Saxton, credibly wrapped in teenage self-absorption) is an overweight, lazy high-school graduate who believes he's an undiscovered computer genius.

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