‘A Small Family Business’ revels in hilarity and hysterics

Gilberto Gálvez & Luis Santillán-Guzmán, Culture editor

One of the funniest plays “A Small Family Business,” the current production in the Linfield Theatre, is also one of the darkest, and that is how the comedy works. The audience shares in the characters’ hilarity and hysterics as crimes are committed left and right, and blackmail ends up being one of the key plot points.

The story in “A Small Family Business” centers around the family furniture business and its new patriarch, Jack McCracken. Jack soon realizes that not everything is quite right with the way the business is being run and as a man of integrity decides to work on fixing it. Unfortunately, the deeper he digs the more convoluted it all becomes, as each member of the family, outlined clearly in the family tree within the program, reveals their own secrets.

However it’s in the subtle humor that makes this production complete. The set is a house set up to reveal almost every room (bathroom included). And while the main action may be occurring in one room, it is hilarious to see what other characters are doing while not in the center of focus. To a person who hasn’t seen the show, it might be right to let the eyes wander around. Laughs possible.

The actors and stage give life to a family that feels real, and reality to a superfluous situation. And thankfully, the darkness and humor find a powerful balance. Janet Gupton, the director, wrote in her program note, “Staying true to Ayckbourn’s talent for comedy, our production keeps alive the long theatrical tradition of British farce without undercutting the darker message the play delivers with a punch to the gut: that entrepreneurial aspirations combined with individual greed can lead to cataclysmic results for a family and a nation.”

The production succeeds.