At one point in the first act of Matthew Ivan Bennett's madcap comedy "A Night with the Family," daughter Bree is running to the bathroom to throw up, mom Diane is passionately kissing her sexy French-Canadian boyfriend Antoine, and son Donny is having a panic attack brought on by a misunderstanding with his new wife, while dad Donald whips up undrinkable herbal smoothies in the kitchen. It's just a typical Christmas Eve in the life of a far-from-typical family in Salt Lake City.
Pygmalion Productions is giving the play its regional premiere in an energy-filled, often-chaotic production that sometimes works and other times doesn't. What "A Night with the Family" has going for it is some clever writing and an assemblage of truly unique characters portrayed by actors who understand their quirks. When it falters, it's because Bennett doesn't always know what to do with them.
This family gives "dysfunctional" a new meaning, yet their behavior is grounded in familiar patterns. Packrat Donald (Andrew Maizner) is obsessed with New Age philosophy and has raised his son to see a world filled with warriors, orphans, and caretakers. In Donny's absence, Donald has turned his son's bedroom into a sweat lodge. Diane (Teresa Sanderson) is a force of nature whose mothering is more like smothering. She announces, "A door cannot stop a mother's love" as she barges into the house and points out the dirt on Bree's sweater as she hugs her. She and Donald split up 17 years earlier, and Donny remembers, "You were here every Friday with a new boyfriend."