'Wine and Spirits' Filled Audiences with Laughs, Love

'Wine and Spirits' Filled Audiences with Laughs, Love

Thomas Ott’s latest play “Wine and Spirits,” presented by Red Shark Productions, recently finished its limited run at The Playroom Theater, but left a lasting impression on audiences. First performed as a staged reading in 2015, “Wine and Spirits” is a comedy about a close-knit family with some big secrets.

From left: Zoe Anastassiou, Carla Briscoe and Christine Seisler. (Courtesy Red Shark Productions, Inc.)

Three adult-age sisters are brought together to go through their recently deceased mother’s belongings the day before her funeral. As they drink glass after glass of wine to take the edge off of the severity of the situation, they come to find some evidence supporting that one of the sisters is actually the daughter of their mom’s long-deceased best friend.

The women try to make sense of this new information and drunkenly wonder if actually knowing which of them is the adopted sister would make any difference on the closeness of their relationships to each other. There are arguments made about how knowing would bring a new sense of identity to the odd-woman out, but also how knowing doesn’t change the fact that they all consider themselves sisters because that’s how they were raised and that bond is stronger than blood anyway.

I am the middle of three siblings, so I was very drawn to the dynamic of these women and how they seamlessly both worked together and against each other. With an odd amount of siblings, two tend to gang up on one and every possible combination of teams is always in play. The shift in what alliance was at the forefront of the plot was such a natural progression because that is how three siblings really do function—you either have an ally or two enemies. Although, in those rare moments where all three siblings are getting along… well, that’s all a parent can hope for.

Though these siblings lost their mother, she’s still with them. Call it unfinished business, but Felecia (a fiesty Carolyn Seiff) is still hanging around her home, trying to make sure her daughters don’t spill wine on the tablecloths, which she inherited from her mother. And while she finally realizes she can’t talk to her girls, she can interact with ghosts of her own past—her BFF, her BFF’s dead husband, and her own dead husband. Things get a bit heated among these four former friends when more secrets are uncovered about the adopted daughter’s paternity and it turns out that the information Felecia was hiding from her daughter’s wasn’t exactly the whole truth. So many secrets. So many lives affected.

Like the sisters, the audience spends the majority of the play trying to figure out which of the siblings is adopted, although my guess at intermission didn’t match what I was hypothesizing as the end of the play neared. I knew, though, that ultimately the name wasn’t important—it was the relationship among the siblings that was. Carla Briscoe (Selina), Christine Seisler (Beth) and Zoe Anastassiou (Kate) were a pleasure to watch as these sleuthing sisters who had a lifetime of sibling bickering down pat. “Wine and Spirits” reminds us how important family is and that belief in and love for each other can be just as strong as a blood bond.

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