SummerStage in the Town of Delafield opened its 2014
theatrical summer series with Woody Allen’s “Don’t Drink
the Water,” one of the famous writer’s early stage plays,
which was later converted into a film starring Jackie Gleason
as the crotchety New Jersey caterer.
Set in the
Cold War era, a family of American tourists, suspected of
being spies, takes refuge in the American embassy which, at
the moment, is being run by Ambassador Magee’s inept son
Axel, who has succeeded up to now only at being a failure.
His competent aide Kilroy’s efficient style makes
Axel look even less proficient. James Boylan and Doug Smedbron
provide an interesting contrast in these two roles.
Hollander family consists of Walter, a reluctant tourist who
owns a catering service; Marion, his nagging wife; and their
daughter Susan, who is engaged to a lawyer whom her father
likes better than she does. During their long stay in the
embassy, Susan becomes attracted to Axel, which proves to be
his only success to date. Ralph Frattura and Tiersa
Ferraro’s constant bickering is well done as the unhappy
couple trying unsuccessfully to cope with their temporary
way we also meet Father Drobney, a Catholic priest, who has a
very small following in Russia, so has resorted to living in
hiding in the embassy and now spends much of his time
perfecting his magic tricks. He occasionally speaks directly
to the audience. Ralph Garcia provides us some amusement with
his antics as the unemployed priest.
is a bit dated, some of the humor doesn’t work that well,
but the pace picks up in Act II. There are protests, a bomb
thrown through the window, a visit from a foreign dignitary
and an escape plan devised by the creative Father Drobney.
Action reigns. On the lighter side, Axel and Susan’s
attraction continues to grow, despite Walter’s vehement
objections. Caitlin Dolan did her best with her role as Susan,
a character which was not very fully developed by Allen.
best offering to date, it does serve up some laughs via
Allen’s perspective on the more frivolous side of the Cold
War. I can easily envision Woody himself playing the part of
the hapless Axel, a quality that James Boylan somewhat
captures. Only Woody Allen could find some humor in being
trapped behind the Iron Curtain.
did a good job in her role as the frustrated chef. Other minor
roles were executed by Carl Liden (Krojack), Jim Mallmann (Mr.
Burns) and Al
Borsari and Diane Kallas in multiple small roles.
The set by
A. J. Simon served the action well, the transitional music
included some of the big hits of the 1960s, and the costumes,
designed by Sharon Sohner, reminded us of some of the fashions
of that era.
directed by Brian Zelinski.