Our plans for our lives have a way of “Making God Laugh.”
That’s the premise of a new play opening Sept. 4 at the Rochester Repertory Theatre. “Making God Laugh,” by Sean Grennan, follows five members — mother, father and three kids — as they reunite for holidays from 1980 to 2010.
The title comes from a statement by Woody Allen, who said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”
“Every one of the people in the family has their plans they want to fulfill,” said Dawn Farr, who is directing the play for the Rep. “But it never happens like they want it to. Kind of like what happens to all of us in life. It’s funny, but it also has poignant moments.”
In the case of the Rep production, art has imitated life, as Farr’s best-laid plans have been sidetracked a few times. First, she was hospitalized for a week with an infection, then some cast members were forced to drop out due to illness or work assignments. “I’m on my third dad,” Farr said of the cast. “It’s kind of like the title of the play.”
The cast consists of Christine Boos and Brad Cole as the parents, and Matt Marshall, Olivia Renken and Brian Brown as the children.
The challenge for the cast is the necessity to age 30 years over the course of the evening. Physically, there will be the addition of some gray hair or lines in the face. Costume-wise, Farr said, “There were dramatic changes in style” in those years. “The costuming people are having a blast.”
Another challenge facing the cast: After all the holiday fun and laughs, the matriarch starts deteriorating with dementia. Life takes a more serious turn.
“It’s a challenge,” Farr said, “but that’s the way we live.”
In that, and in other ways, audiences will recognize their own families in the play, Farr said. “I think the whole idea that families are dysfunctional, even if they think they’re functional,” she said.
This is the first play of the 2015-2016 season at the Rep.