#HFF19 ‘Under the Table and Dreaming’, reviewed

Reviewed by Matt Ritchey

In Under the Table and Dreaming, Lanchi Le makes her writing and directing debut with a story by Holly Hark about Andy and Sid, the human kids from Toy Story. But this is no sequel to the Pixar franchise. The show tells the what-if story of Andy and Sid becoming friends, discovering their attraction to one another, and ultimately having a long, rocky relationship in the adult world.

Things start off with Andy (Adolfo Lambert) and Sid (Cameron Ley) as the kids we know from the movies, but the short scenes very quickly move them to high school where a rollercoaster on-again-off-again relationship starts, capturing moments of their lives, jumping time and not stopping to focus on any major dramatic situations. Drugs and alcohol appear as a catch-all threat but never cause any lasting problems, Sid and Andy break up and get back together a few times, but nothing ever truly shifts the story into gear.

There’s good acting from the whole company – Ley and Lambert are perfectly cast, Sarai Jimenez Ramos is super fun as the bubbly kid sister, Emily Leclair does well as Andy’s Mom but absolutely shines as the manager of a pop star, Dan Shaked is a fabulously understated friend, and Crystal Park plays a great dual role of a Lady Gaga-esque pop queen and…. well, to give away her other role would ruin the finale, so I shan’t.

There are a few fun Toy Story callbacks, but for the most part, the play has no connection to the Pixar movies. What many of us loved about Toy Story was jealous Woody and over-the-top Buzz whose characteristics caused problems which led to drama and action. In Under the Table, we have a sweet chronology of two real boys falling in love, with none of the themes, emotions, or dramatic action we got from a cowboy and an astronaut made of plastic. There’s nothing wrong with that, but a major selling point of the show is quickly lost. Overall, it’s a touching story about two unlikely friends. It’s quite impressive how many people in the cast and creative chair are making their debut with this show, and Under the Table and Dreaming is a solid starting place.

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