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A Family for All Occasions

A FAMILY FOR ALL OCCASIONS Jeffrey DeMunn
Image credit: Carter Smith
A FAMILY FOR ALL OCCASIONS Jeffrey DeMunn
The scene for which playwright Bob Glaudini's A Family for All Occasions is likely to be remembered involves a couple, a jar of peanut butter, and a very bizarre (or creative, depending on your taste) way to use said peanut butter. The rest of the uninspired Off Broadway drama — directed by Oscar winner/longtime Labyrinth Theater Company member Philip Seymour Hoffman — is nowhere near as bizarre (or creative).

Much of it isn't even plausible, in fact. What family lets a kid go off to college by himself, in the dark of night, with just a backpack? Granted, they're probably glad to see the last of sullen Sam (played by Charlie Saxton with the requisite late-teen perma-scowl), even if it leaves them alone with his equally sullen older sister, Sue (Justine Lupe), and her weirdly refined suitor, Oz (William Jackson Harper). Surely Sam's semiretired dad, Howard (Jeffrey DeMunn), would at least hook him up with one of the beloved lamps he spends his days repairing. And what kind of character just declares that she'd be a good grandmother — in the middle of cocktail hour, to no one at particular — as Howard's wife, May (Deirdre O'Connell, trapped in a braying, Roseanne-like role) does? The kind who's telegraphing a plot point, that's who!

But the biggest problem in Glaudini's plodding piece: Eternal optimist Howard — with his penchant for late-morning sherry and big-band LPs — is the only one worth giving a fig about. And one character does not a Family make. C-

(Tickets: LabTheater.org or 212-513-1080)

Originally posted May 13, 2013