It’s totally appropriate that the Chautauqua Playhouse plays musical themes from several decades-old TV shows and sitcoms before the curtain goes up on Squabbles. The play by Marshall Karp is as familiar and as much a guilty pleasure as The Love Boat and The Odd Couple. In fact, it has its own odd couple: in-laws who can’t stand each other and bicker all the time.
“An argument a day keeps the doctor away,” says Abe Dreyfus (veteran actor Rodger Hoopman in what would be a star-making performance if he weren’t already a local legend). At 73 and in his curmudgeonly prime, Abe is honest to a fault about his love for his daughter Alice (Julie Bock) and his tolerance of her husband Jerry (Walt Thompson), with whom he now lives. When Jerry’s mother Mildred (Monique McKisson, very much the comic equal of Hoopman) loses her home, belongings and pet bird to a house fire, she moves in with the young couple, too.
Insanity ensues, reminiscent of the Neil Simon variety, but sharper tongued. With news of Alice’s pregnancy, we wonder if baby makes five, or four, or three in this increasingly crowded home. Hoopman also directs the production, which accents the argumentative with well-timed verbal sparring. His set design and Don Myers’ lighting, especially in a tricky blackout scene, provide comfy accommodations for a play that seeks only to entertain and does so really well.