Ernest Kearney, writer and director of Urned Happiness, is tasteful in many ways, except in his humor, which is very broad. The show’s set is artfully appointed, intermission music is appropriately funereal-like, and the costumes and props are well-chosen. On the wall is a highlighted photograph of a scowling woman who has just died. Two sisters are in the living room of Kim’s house.
Kim (Julie Mann) cared for her the past year, which subsequently drove her husband Lloyd (Joe Corgan) to leave one night, only to return nine months later for the funeral. The daughters describe their mother as being full of hate and vitriol, with strong opinions against everything and everyone, never showing love or affection. But in one of the funniest moments, her sister Maggie (Kal Bennett) adds in a deadpan manner, her mother never spoke ill of the Chinese; there was something to admire about the country’s large population.
The urn causes the participants to fight in well-choreographed mayhem over who’s going to keep the ashes no one wants. Lloyd’s silliness is offensive. His wife Kim, small and feisty, shows a strong dislike to his behavior. Maggie displays credibility and her responses, which range from shock to outrage, seem natural. Maggie’s husband Randy (Gary Rubenstein) is a milktoast, drinking on the sly, afraid of his wife’s wrath. Mr. Bilbo (T.J. Marchbank) is an outrageously dressed clown hired by Lloyd. Maggie goes berserk and zaps him. He recovers to ruefully observe the feverish antics.
Urned Happiness is showing at the T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo St. in North Hollywood. (At the intersection of Vineland and Lankershim.) Performances are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through February 6. There won’t be any performances during Christmas weekend. Tickets are $20; $12.50 for seniors, students and PWA; and group rates are available. For reservations, call (800) 838-3006 or visit http://BrownPaperTickets.com.