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The Waiting Room A superb ensemble cast stars in Samm-Art Williams's warm, funny work set in a hospital waiting room. The Innis family patriarch (unseen throughout the play) is recovering upstairs from a heart attack. His son Riley (Broderick Jones), loquacious brother Patrick (Byron Jacquet), stern sister Jessie (Bebe Wilson) and family friends Gordon (John Stevens) and his son Casey (Jamie Geiger) wait to hear news about his condition from Hannah, the efficient nurse on duty (Rachel Hemphill Dickson). The family is joined in the waiting room by townie Rachel (Tisha Dorn), who's brought in her baby with a bad cold, and sassy Cookie (Detria Ward), looking after her ailing sister. In this small town in North Carolina, everyone knows everybody else, and everybody has a secret. Sure enough, tales are spilled and long-buried skeletons unearthed. Adding to the fun, Patrick can't keep his mouth shut, Gordon is an unconverted Confederate sympathizer who wears the Stars and Bars just to annoy his black friends, and Hannah puts the make on Riley, who's married with children. As a co-producer, Williams has a string of hit TV shows (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin, Good News) and a Tony award nomination for his drama Home, and he knows how to construct a feel-good comedy with just enough surprise touches. The Ensemble Theatre overlays the comedy with its usual pro polish in costuming (Shirley Whitmore), setting (James Thomas) and direction (Eileen Morris). At the end, everything falls neatly into place. Even if it's a bit too pat, there's nothing wrong with a gentle smile and two hours of family-friendly entertainment. You'll wish you were an Innis, too. What's one more secret among family? Through October 17. 3535 Main, 713-520-0055. — DLG

 

 

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