.Mommie Dearest: Flawed Family Takes the Stage

Santa Rosa’s Roustabout Theater is best known as one of the leading theatrical training and performance programs in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

With a focus on youth ages 11 to 20, their Apprentice Program and Summer Theater Camp productions lean toward lighter fare, like this summer’s scheduled production of The SpongeBob Musical.

Roustabout also has a Professional Ensemble component consisting of program staff, graduates and guest artists, and once a year or so they put up a more “mature” production.

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

Roustabout returns with Alexi Kaye Campbell’s Apologia. The Clark Lewis-directed show runs in the Carsten Cabaret in the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts through March 27.

“Apologia” is defined as a formal, written defense of one’s opinions or conduct. It’s also the title that renowned art historian Kristin Miller (Kate Brickley) has chosen for her memoir. She makes clear to the family and friends gathered to celebrate her birthday at her English countryside home that it’s not to be confused with an apology.

Her son, Peter (Jared N. Wright), has come with his American girlfriend, Trudi (Jessie Rankin), seeking just that or at least an explanation as to why her text is devoid of any mention of him or his brother, Simon (Bohn Connor), and, more so, why she never fought for their return after they were taken away as children by their father. The siblings’ erasure has sent Simon over the deep end, leaving his not-soap-opera actress wife, Claire (Ellen Rawley), to attend solo. They are soon joined by Kristin’s gay best friend, Hugh (Bill Davis), whose purpose seems to be to utter Oscar Wilde-like bons mots. Simon eventually shows up, words are exchanged and nothing is really resolved.

Campbell’s script delves into such well-worn issues as 60’s radicalism and idealism, religion, capitalism, patriarchies and the sacrifices one makes in life, but there’s really nothing new here. It’s your typical dysfunctional family reunion. Moments of humor and emotional depth only highlight the shallowness of what surrounds them.

The cast is good, but still needs to shake off some understandable rust.

But don’t we all?

‘Apologia’ runs through March 27 in the Carsten Cabaret at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. 50 Mark West Springs Rd., Santa Rosa. Fri–Sat, 7:30pm; Sun, 2pm. $20–$26. Proof of vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours required. Masking required if unvaccinated. roustabout-theater.org

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