Review: Beer for Breakfast at Chautauqua Playhouse

Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. Through March 4; $19-$21; Chautauqua Playhouse in the La Sierra Community Center, 5325 Engle Road in Carmichael; (916) 489-7529;
Rated 4.0

In Beer for Breakfast, a group of middle-aged buddies (50-ish is middle-aged, right?) reunite for a guys’ weekend in a remote cabin owned by one of the four friends. They plan to eat chili, drink beer, burp and listen to a little disco music as they relive their old college days when beer for breakfast might seem like a fine choice.

Despite unemployment, divorce and a stroke, these three have high hopes—until the guy whose cabin it is doesn’t show up, but his wife does.

A strong cast of age-appropriate actors goes all-out with this funny script that has some serious messages, too. Warren Harrison plays Mark, a newspaper writer who got “unhired” only to be offered freelance work at a per-piece price; Walt Thompson plays a divorced advertising salesman fighting a wife and worrisome work partners; John Walck plays “stroke boy” Richard, perhaps the most difficult role because it asks him to be authentic in movement and speech, and both sympathetic and funny. Julie Thompson plays Jessie, a war-of-the-sexes warrior who was sent by her husband to deliver bad news.

Robert Gerould directs on a small but efficient set designed by Rodger Hoopman. Some awkward lighting delays were troublesome, particularly late in the first act when some in the audience thought it was intermission time.