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Alone Together

Lawrence Roman's "Alone Together" chronicles one middle-aged couple's frustrated attempts to deal with a modern-day plague: An infestation of adult offspring. Though this tale of the domestic woes of George and Helene Butler (Nicholas Pryor and Nancy Dussault) and their children unfolds with television sitcom predictability, director David Galligan has charged his talented ensemble with a comic energy and inventiveness that keeps the material fresh and the laughs constant.

With:
George Butler ... Nicholas Pryor Helene Butler ... Nancy Dussault Keith Butler ... John Allee Michael Butler ... Maury Ginsberg Elliott Butler ... Spencer Garrett Janie Johnson ... Shawn Modrell

Lawrence Roman’s “Alone Together” chronicles one middle-aged couple’s frustrated attempts to deal with a modern-day plague: An infestation of adult offspring. Though this tale of the domestic woes of George and Helene Butler (Nicholas Pryor and Nancy Dussault) and their children unfolds with television sitcom predictability, director David Galligan has charged his talented ensemble with a comic energy and inventiveness that keeps the material fresh and the laughs constant.

After 30 years of relentless child rearing, the Butlers of Brentwood, California, are practically drooling with anticipation as they watch Keith (John Allee), the youngest and last of three sons, drive off to start college in Seattle.

Dreams of carefree days and passion-filled nights are quickly dashed, however , when eldest son Michael (Maury Ginsberg), followed by middle sibling Elliott (Spencer Garrett), take up residence in the bedrooms of their youth.

Math genius Michael, unable to cope with the pressures and responsibilities of his fellowship at MIT, has fled back to the creature comforts of clean sheets and a well-stocked refrigerator.

Handsome, fast-talking salesman Elliott is home by default. He has been thrown out of his Dallas home by a wife who has had enough of his wandering libido.

Complicating matters further is the arrival of retro flower child Janie (Shawn Modrell), who, unbeknownst to George and Helene, has been invited by departing son Keith to occupy his bedroom while she attends college in Santa Monica.

Nancy Dussault and Nicholas Pryor are perfectly matched as the put-upon Butlers, who manage to deal with each stage of this parent’s nightmare with a hilarious combination of awe, rage and terror.

As the three insecure young men of their times, Maury Ginsberg, Spencer Garrett and John Allee have been perfectly cast.

Ginsberg’s Michael is a delightfully hairy, misanthropic throwback to the age of Allen Ginsberg and the Beat generation. Garrett exudes the superficial bravado of a self-proclaimed stud who has discovered that his manhood is barely skin-deep. And John Allee’s brief stint as Elliott is properly callow.

The surprise of the evening is Shawn Modrell as the perpetually mobile Janie Johnson. She speaks with every limb of her body and her timing is exquisite.

Gary Wissman’s perfectly detailed contemporary Brentwood home set is so correct it becomes a character in the play. Adding to this lightweight but oh-so-pleasant fare are the sound, lighting and costume designs of Frederick Boot, Kevin Mahan and Bonnie Stauch, respectively.

Alone Together

(Pasadena Playhouse; 900 seats; $ 31.50 top)

Production: The Pasadena Playhouse State Theatre of California Inc., in association with Theatre Corp. of America, presents a play in two acts by Lawrence Roman. Directed by David Galligan.

Creative: Set design, Gary Wissman; lighting, Kevin Mahan; costumes, Bonnie Stauch; sound, Frederick Boot; production stage manager, Kathleen Horton. Opened and reviewed May 23, 1993; ends June 27.

Cast: George Butler ... Nicholas Pryor Helene Butler ... Nancy Dussault Keith Butler ... John Allee Michael Butler ... Maury Ginsberg Elliott Butler ... Spencer Garrett Janie Johnson ... Shawn Modrell

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