Laurie McKinnon is determined that everyone should have a normal Christmas, especially while the eldest son is away serving in the military. She rushes about making sure everything is ready for the impending arrival of the extended family, although her husband, Jim, and teenage daughter, Kelsey, are unconvinced of the need to impress everyone. Meanwhile, youngest daughter Emma arrives downstairs in full camouflage makeup. Her mother is less than enthused. Visitors soon trickle in. Laurie’s very pregnant sister with her husband, who gets lost easily; Jim’s brother, his worrisome wife and 6 children, and even the neighbor children arrive to add to the day. Best of all is Aunt Bev, who needs no prompting to spin the tale of the Swenson fruitcake. The fruitcake was made some 20 years ago, and has never been eaten. It has become a family tradition to keep it in the pantry until Christmas, when it earns a place on the table only to be put away for the next year. The afternoon brings arguments, tears, joy, and reconciliations, some long overdue. But no matter what, it will always be a regular McKinnon Christmas— just as long as they have the fruitcake. And nothing could go wrong with that…could it? About 65 minutes.
REBECCA FROHLING TALKS ABOUT
“THE FAMILY FRUITCAKE”
1. What inspired you to write this play?
It wasn't so much inspired by, but the main theme of the show came to be, family. That's what Christmas is to me; a time to be with family, and/or those you love. A time to appreciate them for who they are- even if who they are drives you crazy.
2. What's your favorite part or line in the play? Why?
That's a toughie. One favorite is definitely Aunt Bev's: "It's never too late to make a change. Particularly when something is important enough." That's an idea very close to my heart; having the power to change your life, or to at least make the attempt, when you want to badly enough.
...And, of course, any time the triplets say, "Cool!!!"
3. Where did the characters come from? Are they based on people you know?
Sadly, I don't know an Aunt Bev, or a David Dodson (although I did get lost once in my own subdivision). They're more a mixture of hopefully familiar qualities. The person who talks, even when no-one is listening; the woman who puts unbelievable pressure on herself trying to meet society's expectations; the teenager who constantly focuses on getting out into the real world (where things will supposedly, magically, improve). Most people probably have, or know someone who has, at least some of these qualities -I've been known to exhibit just a few myself.
4. What did you try to achieve with this play?
I wanted to make a play that really speaks to the experience so many of us share of our families getting together on the holidays, regardless of whether it's Christmas, Hanukkah, or Arbor Day. Although hopefully most families don't go through as much as the McKinnons!
5. Do you have anything else you'd like to add?
Happy Fruitcake to all, and to all a good night!