By Britin Haller
Pigs Do Fly’s Morning After Grace is laugh-out-loud funny, with Carey Crim’s script chock with just about every adult theme imaginable, this is a big feat indeed.
It’s early morning in a condo somewhere on Florida’s Suncoast (retirement meccas St. Pete, Clearwater, and Sarasota come to mind) when Morning After Grace opens. Abigail and Angus, half-naked, and with a vague memory of vodka and a swimming pool, awake to find themselves each with a virtual stranger. As if this isn’t awkward enough, Abigail gets a shock when she looks around the apartment, only to discover Angus may not be what he appeared in the romantic moonlight.
As Abigail and Angus start to put yesterday’s puzzle pieces together, enter neighbor Ollie, once a semi-famous professional baseball player from Detroit. And if there isn’t already enough confusion in the room, Ollie is there to amp it up a few notches, and he doesn’t disappoint.
Any discussion must be vague so as not to spoil one of the many gags or reveals, including exactly what the play’s title means. A title you’ll likely be pondering long after the show ends.
The first act can best be described as the characters being in a state of confusion; the second act is the characters’ enlightenment, as the unlikely triad comes to grips with their truths, and takes baby steps toward the rest of their lives. They make each other, and therefore us, want to be better people.
Carbonell Award winner André L. Gainey stars as Ollie, the neighbor who is always doing for others, but never himself. A conversation about his relationship with his elderly father is touching, and the actor hits all the right notes. Ollie is someone we should all be so lucky to have as a friend.
Equally impressive is Janice Hamilton who should get an award for walking around on those high high-heels without breaking something. Truly impressive. Her Abigail is emotional, lovely, and sincere, and you feel the longing as this smart woman, with three graduate degrees no less, fumbles through life looking for signs from her deceased mom.
Angus, on the other hand, is the exact opposite, as he can’t recall the last time he felt emotion, before now that is. Sheer pain and confusion show on actor Peter W. Galman’s perfectly chiseled face, as he pulls the audience in with his pathos. Note to men; never tell a woman she’s of a certain age. Just ask the audience, who collectively gasped at that one.
All three actors have impressive credits, and as a trio, they work together well, actively listening to each other, not just reciting their next line. One of the genuinely funny scenes occurs in the second act when they smoke marijuana from a bong, get the munchies, and decide to make brownies. Be aware if you have a sensitivity to smoke, like one gentleman in the audience did.
Deborah ‘DK’ Kondelik, Patrick S. Vida, Ardean Landhuis, David Hart, and Preston Bircher obviously know their stuff in their respective areas of direction, stage management, scenic design, sound, and lighting. The set, a modest but attractive living room/kitchen area, is pretty and functional. Lighting sets the mood, and sound effects add humor and sentimentality. One minor continuity issue in the script is harmless and endearing.
Pigs Do Fly Productions was started by Ellen Wacher eight years ago with a mission to prove older people still lead interesting lives, and Morning After Grace fits that bill nicely.
Morning After Grace more than earns the right to call itself “hilarious and heartwarming.”
Morning After Grace from Pigs Do Fly Productions runs through November 19 at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Drive, Fort Lauderdale (two blocks north of Sunrise, east of the railroad tracks); 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. Running time approximately 100 minutes with a 10-minute intermission. Tickets $45, or mention the code POSTCARD for $10 off. Call 954-678-1496, or visit pigsdoflyproductions.com.