Saturday, February 27, 2010

Show #9 "You Can't Take It With You" at Lakewood Playhouse

I will say this upfront: I have never really liked Kaufman & Hart's story of the crazy Sycamore family. It seems corny and dated. It seems more suited to a high school stage than a community theatre striving to be as professional in their standards as possible.

Even when I saw this show at the Seattle Repertory Theatre last season, it still felt like a cast full of pros (and they were terrific pros, at that!) were borrowing a script from a local high school drama club.

But, that's only my opinion. Others (including my dear husband) consider this play to be one of the great American comedy classics. To each their own.

There is one thing about the play that I do admire. Grandpa's philosophy about life, which appears to have spread to his entire extended family (and a few friends, too) always strikes a cord with me.

Grandpa believes that life is to be enjoyed. If you don't enjoy what you do for a living, then why are you doing it? Apparently, Grandpa was once a business type who left the corporate world for the pleasures of the stress-free, follow-your-passions life.

Quite a nice path to take, but unlike most of the world, Grandpa has an income for life from property investments made as a younger man. He also fails to pay any taxes. So, being given the luxury of NOT having to work each day, Grandpa and his family enjoy living life for their own pleasurable pursuits, be it painting, dancing, playing the xylophone or attending commencement ceremonies at the local university.

Like I said, pursuing pastimes that give us pleasure and help us develop into the unique persons God made us to be, is a very good thing. I have connected with that idea.

What his philosophy lacks is the dignity of work. Yes, pastimes must give us pleasure, but work must also be a part of life. Grandpa left the corporate world because his work gave him no pleasure. What he failed to do is find work that did give him pleasure.

Okay, okay...this is just a silly comedy about a bunch of people who don't exist. I get that. But the main ideas are still the same, whether the story is fictional or "real."

I love stories about folks who find pleasure and meaning in their work. Work is a noble thing, and to serve our fellow man in our life's work is even nobler.

I just wish this wonderful message wasn't delivered by a bunch of characters like the Sycamores. But nevertheless, it is a wonderful, inspiring message.

Graphics courtesy of Lakewood Playhouse

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