You’re not going to find a stronger theater company in the Twin Cities than the Theatre in the Round Players, and they’ve done it again, mounting yet another first-rate production. The White Sheep of the Family, by L. du Garde Peach and Ian Hay, is a splendidly written, sharply directed, beautifully acted farce you’re going to rush home and tell family, friends—pretty much anyone who’ll listen—all about.
|the white sheep of the family, a play written by l. du garde peach and ian hay, directed by dann peterson. presented through december 14 at theatre in the round, 245 cedar ave., minneapolis. for tickets ($20) and information, see theatreintheround.org.|
The Winters are a reputable, well-to-do household, proudly sustaining a generations-old tradition—of thievery. Patriarch James (H. Wesley McClain) is internationally regarded as the best burglar in England. The lady of the house, Alice (Diana Wilde), is a pickpocket’s pickpocket. So is daughter Pat (L. J. Johnson). The Winters are a gracious lot who don’t look down their nose at the hired help: Alice and Pat have taken the maid, Janet (Valarie Falken), under their wing as an apprentice. They let her practice on them—lifting their wallets, palming brooches and earrings—until she’s good enough to go out and steal from strangers.
All are quite contentedly living the larcenous good life. Then, a crisis of scandalous proportions crashes in on their existence. Peter Winter, the brilliant young forger of the clan, decides to go straight. James is disappointed but determined to bring him back into the fold. Alice is absolutely aghast. Pat is ready to disown him. What to do, what to do? Therein lies the hang-onto-your-seat hilarity.
Completing a strong cast are David Schlosser as the family’s tacky, not quite on the up-and-up fence; Amber Rose Reilly as Peter’s fiancée; Jim Bitney as her dad the assistant police commissioner; and, just about stealing the show, Dwight Gunderson in a delightful turn as the doddering, senile vicar who’d forget where he put his head were it not sewn on. Dann Peterson directs with an artful hand, keeping the pace lively and bringing out the best in his actors. The script takes a minute or two to get going but quickly kicks into gear, crisp dialogue sustaining a haywire story. Toward the end, it’ll seem like the authors are about to pull an implausible rabbit of the hat and give this fine tale a tepid ending. Stay with it, because that’s when they really put you away with a spirited, I-never-saw-it-coming climax.
Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.