Photo: Larry Cobra
Playwright/director Derek Ahonen and the Amoralists specialize in "going there" – that is, where other troupes usually dare not tread. The long opening scene is Ahonen at his best, and he has two fiery actors making it all shine. Now, "going there" is all very well. The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side went where it went with enough focus to sustain itself. Happy in the Poorhouse, though, goes too many places. It has a lot of fun getting there, with memorable characters, much humor, and the kind of elevated working-class writing, self-conscious yet honestly poetic, that marks this playwright as a writer of great talent, and an evident nostalgia for the unsubtle big style of writers of the 1930's. And the troupe is up to the challenge of living his words. What's missing – not throughout, but for significant stretches of both acts – is focus. More characters pile on, announcing themselves with overdone aria-like bombast, and some seem to be there just for local color. Rochelle Mikulich is delightful as Paulie's country-singer little sis, and Matthew Pilieci deserves notice as Mary's preening mailman brother. But the structure feels imposed, the flow uneven. Read the full review.