Review: You Can’t Take It With You (Soulpepper)

Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre stages Pulitzer-winning show, You Can’t Take it With You

The thing I like most about Soulpepper shows is how real they feel. The attention to detail is remarkable and the sets, the costumes, the characters all seem so well developed, that for a moment, it’s like you walked into their world instead of being an audience member at a put-on show.

You Can’t Take It With You has a fairly simple plot and may not be the most original storyline for our time but it’s a classic tale about a charming young woman who is dating her prim and proper boss’s son. She is terrified about her completely eccentric family meeting her potential in-laws for the first time.

As you can imagine everything that can go wrong absolutely does and the show is full of hilarious one-liners and over the top situations that seem crazy but somehow believable as we all know at least one crazy family.

The characters are what make this show. Each one contributes something to the story. Another thing I really liked is that they didn’t try and update or modernize this show and surprisingly it really works well in its original setting.

My date and I thought Eric Peterson as Grandpa stole the show every time he was onstage. His character is so endearing and he is just so full of life. We also loved Nancy Palk and her quirky character, she nailed her part. I mention these two performances as standouts for me but honestly everyone in this production does a great job.

My date also pointed out the music and set design were perfectly executed and really added to the overall feel of the show.

As is pretty standard for a Soulpepper opening, it was a full house that night. Audience members seemed engaged during the show and there was a lot of laughter. I enjoyed the show so much that time seemed to fly and it didn’t feel like we were there for two and a half hours (including an intermission).

Underneath all the comedy and lighthearted humour of this production there is a sincere and timeless message. It’s about family; acceptance; and loving one another over anything else in this world. When it comes down to it, these are the things that make life worth living and once in a while we just need to live in the moment and focus on the important things, because no matter how much wealth you accumulate in this lifetime, you can’t take it with you!

If you get a a chance you should definitely check out this Pulitzer Prize-winning show that still has the ability to make you laugh over 70 years after it was written.


You Can’t Take It With You is playing at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (55 Mill St) until June 21, 2012
– Performances run April 26 to June 21, 2012 at varying times; see schedule
– Tickets range from $32 to $68
– Tickets are available in person, online, or by calling the box office at 416 866 8666

Photo of Patricia Fagan, Derek Boyes, Gregory Prest, Nancy Palk, Mike Ross & Eric Peterson by Cylla von Tiedemann