“The Realization of Emily Linder” at Taproot Theatre

Now I’ve encountered some pretty irascible mothers during my lifetime, but believe me, Emily Linder, the mother at the center of this play, is about as bad as they get. She’s a crotchety, domineering, rotund old lady in bad health. She issues orders, bizarre orders, to her two daughters in the manner of a Marine drill sergeant, and she is accustomed to being obeyed. As played by gravel voiced Laura Kenny she’s a force to be reckoned with

So when she announces to her daughters that she is going to die on the coming Friday, they don’t laugh; they don’t tell her she’s lost her mind. No, they suggest that one doesn’t know when one is going to die, and that, though she is in poor health, it’s unlikely that Friday’s the big day.

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Charity Parenzini and Laura Kenny Photo by John Ulman

Of course she ignores them. She tells them she’s had a vision, knows she’s going to die, and has instructions for them. Then she delivers her wacky directives. They know better than to cross her so they faithfully attend to her requests.

Director Nathan Kessler-Jeffrey guides this comedy with a sure hand. Laura Kenny inhabits the role of Mother Emily with a ferociousness that’s palpable. Barking out her orders, dismissing all objections, scowling angrily at any who would dare to question her, she takes a very funny script and makes it more so.

Charity Parenzini and Helen Harvester as the daughters play off each other with finesse. They are particularly successful at defining sisters who have opposite talents and life styles. They too have mastered the comedic elements of the script and make the most of its insights into sibling rivalry. All three of the central actors have the timing down perfectly, and their body language says much.

The final cast member is Annelih GH Hamilton as the home health aide brought in to assist the tyrant mother. She excels at portraying the quiet one, the thoughtful, probably least important one. But watch her carefully. She knows more than any of them.

This delightful comedy incorporates within it, so much insight into the human condition—coping with end of life issues, the parent/child relationship, as well as sibling rivalry. No matter what your own family dynamics are, you’ll find something to relate to and laugh at in this well presented play.

Through June 11, at Taproot Theatre, 204 N. 85 St., Seattle, (206 781-9707 or
http://taproottheatre.org/buy-tickets/).

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