DramaLab Previews: “Family 2.0” and “The Chocolate Affair”

Family 2.0 The audience rolls its eyes. “Honey, I’m home!” declares Kenny Gould ’09, bursting through the door stage right with a pompous smile on his face. We’ve seen this a million times before: the workaholic husband, the quintessential housewife, the teenage drama queen and the irritating younger brother. But there’s a rather distinct catch to this seemingly stereotypical suburban family. You see, the workaholic husband is—you guessed it—still at work. So what the heck is Gould doing, a bouquet of orchids in one hand and a page of love poems in the other? The desperate housewife, Stassja Sichko ’10, is terrified and confused. “I’m your new husband,” Gould explains, as if the answer was obvious. “But… I already have a husband,” Sichko insists. Gould shrugs. “He can have my life.” So begins Family 2.0, written by Walter Wykes and directed by DramaLab veteran Carolyn Whittingham ’11. A stranger infiltrates a cookie-cutter family and convinces Sichko, her daughter (Kate Chaviano ’12) and her son (Daniel Santamaria ’11) that their lives would be incalculably better with a different man in the house. Conflict arises when the real husband, Daniel Schultz ’12, returns to find himself literally relegated to a dog-like status (“woof!”) in his own house. Chaos and hilarious uproar ensue. Schultz’s canine impersonations are more than amusing, Chaviano brings the shallow, self-absorbed daughter to life (“What do I have to do to get some attention in this house?!”) and Santamaria chimes in at inappropriate moments with juvenile comments (“I have to poop.”) Recognizing the deeper themes of unfulfilled dreams in Family 2.0, director Whittingham admits that she’s not aiming to emphasize anything too profound. “The audience does not have to remember the story or exactly what happened in my DramaLab. I just want them to have a good time. I intentionally tried to make it as light-hearted and off-kilter as possible—an enjoyable way to start the weekend.” The Chocolate Affair The lights go up, illuminating a businesswoman named Beverly (Katie Benvenuti ’12) who is cuddling with a large container of Halloween candy—setting the stage for what is sure to be an engaging DramaLab. Bizarre, funny and hinting towards the profound, “The Chocolate Affair,” also starring Cliff Brannan ’11 and Kennedy Edmonds ’12, incorporates everything from pirates to garrulous candy bars.?Director Dominic DeJesus ’10 described his DramaLab as a “dark comedy.” He explained the serious undertones, saying “I chose the show because it illustrates a really common human struggle for control. We all have our flaws, and this is the story of a woman who is having a tough time with one of hers.”? “It made a lot of sense to me to choose something people could relate to,” he added. “I want the people in the audience to realize they’re not so alone in whatever craziness they might have. And I want them to laugh! Laughing is important. No one should take this so seriously that they can’t laugh.”? Indeed, it’s hard not to laugh at a DramaLab about bantering candy bars! But the process of getting this show up and running, especially after a long weekend, has not been easy for DeJesus. “This has been a really strenuous experience,” he said, referring to the nightmare of scheduling rehearsals. “My first foray into directing, last year, was way easier. This was super challenging, but I am grateful. I feel like I will be a better, stronger and wiser director from now on.”? “The Chocolate Affair” by Stephanie Alison Walker is by no means a sugar-coated comedy. It is the plot’s simultaneous absurdity and familiarity that brings humor to the show. But, for anyone with a sweet tooth, “The Chocolate Affair” is a must-see!