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A Tall Order: Anna Kerrigans "The Talls"

Anna Kerrigan’s fine new play, “The Talls” would probably benefit from a more seductive title. Family in dysfunction can have so many iterations, but this one is fresh and beguiling.

Set in a small California town in the 1970’s, “The Talls” at 2econd Stage Theatre Uptown, through August 27th, focuses on the rudderless Clarke children.

Everything in “The Talls” encapsulates the 1970s. The actors are perfectly dressed by Jenny Mannis and the Clarke living room, in a set by Dane Laffrey, is evocative of “The Brady Bunch.”

Big sister, Isabelle (Shannon Esper) feels responsible for keeping her siblings on track. She makes sure they get their homework done, keeps Christian (Michael Oberholtzer) from picking on Catherine (Lauren Holmes) and makes sure that their youngest brother, Nicholas (Timothee Chalamet) gets ready for bed.

Gerard Canonico as Russell James with Shannon
Esper as Isabelle [Photo (c) Joan Marcus] 

The parents, John (Peter Rini) and Anne Clarke (Christa Scott-Reed) are pre-occupied– mostly with dad’s career and aspirations in politics, but also with Anne’s friendship with Sister Connie, one of the children’s teachers.

Christa Scott-Reed as Mrs. Anne Clarke and Peter Rini
as Mr. John Clarke [Photo (c) Joan Marcus] 

Anne, who has forgotten about Christian’s and Catherine’s ball games in the early afternoon, comes home to remind them, over an early cocktail, to get ready to meet their father’s political advisor, Russell James (Gerard Canonico).

Isabelle is not just the oldest in the family, she is also the smartest, and in some ways, despite her youth, the wisest. She is, also, the most daring. Isabelle longs for freedom from the straight and narrow. Her dreams of being a hippie are partly fulfilled as the comedy reaches a poignant outcome.

To find out more about Anna Kerrigan’s “The Talls,” please visit http://2st.com/