CENTERVILLE — A family vacation gone wrong.
That's the basic plot of Woody Allen's comedy "Don't Drink The Water," running through Feb. 3 at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre, which features a family's nightmare vacation when their plane is rerouted behind the Iron Curtain and they are pursued by communist police who believe that they are American spies.
Set in the 1960s, the play features a host of quirky characters, witty one-liners and Allen's trademark jokes, with a story that moves along at a brisk pace. The strong cast is led by Jeffrey Owen as Walter Hollander, a New Jersey caterer who spends the play badgering his positive, simple-minded wife Marion (played by Linda Jean Stephenson) on why the family should have taken an Atlantic City beach vacation instead of the European vacation they eventually chose.
The action really gets going when the Hollanders take refuge in the U.S. Embassy, putting themselves in the incapable hands of Axel Magee (played by J. Caleb Morris), who is in charge after his father, the ambassador, takes leave.
At the U.S. Embassy, a group of misfits greet the Hollanders, making this a true ensemble comedy. Father Drobney (played by Richard Judd), who has been in hiding for six years; Chef (played by Marinda Maxfield), disgusted with Walter and his food preferences; Kilroy (played by Kellie Chapman), the confident and eager secretary at the U.S. Embassy; and Burns (played by Jennifer Beckstrand), who cleans and tends to the U.S. Embassy grounds.
A romance between Susan, the Hollander's attractive and innocent daughter (played by Mahaley Hansen) and Axel, complicates things, especially since she is engaged to a lawyer back home.
Their romance also showcases Morris' gift for comedic timing and slapstick, which is heightened as Owen's Walter fights against the match. Morris complements Owen's role, showing his foolishness and lack of common sense, all while pandering to Susan throughout the production. And Owen as Walter shines in his own right, showcasing his character's unreserved manner and attitude in the standout role.
Owen and Stephenson as Marion also have great on-stage chemistry together, portraying a humorous bickering, side-poking couple that keeps the audience laughing throughout the play.
Although the stage is quite simple with no scene changes, the actors and actresses bring it alive with witty and humorous comments that kept the crowd intrigued throughout the entire play. The overall simplicity of the set, audio and lighting of the production allowed the company to shine with their acting ability.
With all of its slapstick and frenatic action, "Don't Drink the Water" is really about the jokes and the actors who deliever them and thankfully for this production, they hit it just right.
Content advisory: "Don't Drink the Water" has a few mild swear words, some mild sexual humor and comic slapstick violence, but nothing of a graphic nature.