"what lies beneath"
A Goofy Comedy with a Lot of Heart: A Review of “Mic Father Like Son”
by Subtext Theater Company
BY TRISTAN BRUNS | SEPTEMBER 13, 2023
Subtext Theater Company’s “Mic Father Like Son,”
with Michael Aldridge II (Tony DiPisa) and Mike Aldridge (John Oster)
Photo: Jacob Hagloch
“Mic Father Like Son” is the latest production from Subtext Theater Company, written and co-directed by Jonathan “Rocky” Hagloch, who also worked on set design and sound design with the show’s assistant producer and co-director, John Oster, and producer Leigh Johnson.
“Mic Father Like Son” follows an eventful weekend in the living room of Mike Aldridge Sr. (Oster), a successful Kansas City radio personality on the edge of retirement, whose only goal left in life is to see his son, Mike Aldridge Jr. (Tony DiPisa), get married and embark on a stable life. As friends and family gather in Mike Sr.’s living room to celebrate his retirement, an intricate plot unfolds that sees not one, not two, but THREE twists to the story.
These narrative twists are not surprising—the show’s tagline all but give them away—but they are fun. Mike Jr. is surprised to see his ex-girlfriend Nikki (Sarah Jean Mergener) attend the gathering, stirring up latent romantic feelings compounded by a mysterious wedding announcement in a local newspaper that lists an upcoming nuptial for a “Mike and Nikki.” But there are two Mikes in the family, and judging by Nikki’s cold shoulder, Mike Jr. is soon on the verge of living in his own worst nightmare.
The show plays like a silly sitcom, with the colorful cast of characters acting like cartoonish archetypes.
Marty (Andrew Pond) is a rip-off of Bert Lahr playing a newsman, who crashes the party and goes on a drunken tirade, delivering every line in his newsman voice with eyes comically wide.
Mike Sr.’s brother, Arthur (Hagloch), is the good-natured “cool uncle” wearing a Hawaiian shirt and fedora, and delivers questionable advice punctuated by encouraging belly laughs.
Mike Sr.’s manager, Bea (Renae Stone), is a powerful, professional woman who tells dirty jokes like “one of the guys.”
Subtext Theater Company’s “Mic Father Like Son,” with siblings Dorothy (Tina Benitez) and Mike (Tony DiPisa)/Photo: Jacob Hagloch
Mike Jr. and sister Dorothy (Tina Benitez) act like embarrassing little children by sneering at each other, then pouting with arms crossed and protruding bottom lips. Dorothy’s husband, Alan (Daniel Martin), acts as moderator between the two juvenile adults, but comes off as not manly enough to deserve Mike Sr.’s approval.
To say that these performances are over the top would be an understatement.
The show moves along at a fast pace, and there are plenty of chuckles. As the classic situation-comedy style slowly disappears from television, this world of pratfalls, outlandish plot twists and witty repartee is a fun throwback.
You got to hand it to Hagloch and Oster for their commitment to putting on new works of theater. Almost every behind-the-scenes role is handled by one or the other, or both. Along with Johnson, the passion of this team is evident in the production. The entire cast provide the superhuman energy required to maintain their larger-than-life roles.
“Mic Father Like Son” is full of charm, wit and shtick, an appealing performance for those in the mood for a goofy comedy with a lot of heart.
“Mic Father Like Son” is presented by Subtext Theater Company at St. Bonaventure Oratory Theater, 1625 West Diversey. Tickets are $30 and are available at subtextnfg.org.