Eating with a family other than your own is an iffy proposition. Sometimes you wish they would just adopt you already, and sometimes you're sent running in the opposite direction.
But what happens when you're stuck with them, love or hate, bound by marriage?
You Can't Take It With You introduces one such incidence with the Sycamores and the Kirbys, two disparate families brought together by the star-crossed love of their recently engaged children.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning play opened on Broadway in 1936 and played for more than 800 performances, a record at the time. Written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, and now being staged by TheatreWorks, it's a fine addition to the holidays, says director Geoffrey Kent. "TheatreWorks likes to have a play with a holiday feel, but not necessary a Christmas classic," he says. "It's impossible to watch this one without smiling."
You Can't Take It With You could be pegged as a dysfunctional family comedy, and it's true that the Sycamores aren't what you would call a "normal" family. But Kent insists they're actually quite functional; they merely show a rare collective zeal for life. Mrs. Sycamore might be writing another of her plays while Mr. Sycamore is making fireworks in the basement, and their daughter, Essie, is practicing ballet.
"We all have a passionate artist in our families that pursues what they love, even if it's not the right, or smart, thing," says Kent. "But this is a family where every single member falls into that category."
The visiting Kirbys are a direct contrast: They're proper and formal; made uncomfortable by the kind, loving nature of the Sycamores; and living lives devoid of little hobbies and pleasures.
Casting was Kent's biggest challenge, but he found actors from the Springs and Denver who are "honest clowns."
"We're trying to balance comedy with reality," he explains, "so that it doesn't become a caricature of itself."
David Barber's sets will resemble the interior of a 1930s-style New York City brownstone, which Kent says will be "welcoming and warm." With seats on three sides of the stage, and the fourth side thrust toward the audience, you essentially find yourself at the table.
Which, actually, dovetails nicely with the play's title and message.
"You have to live life for today, because you don't know what tomorrow is going to bring," says Kent. "It encourages the audience, when they go home, to pick up that violin, or sketchbook, and spend a little time with it, because that's what makes life worth living."