The United States has no monopoly on darkly funny, dysfunctional families. Canadian George F. Walker's comedy, Escape From Happiness, follows such a bickering group Oct. 7-24 at off-off-Broadway's Vital Theatre Company. Opening night is Oct. 9 Described as a "hybrid between Sam Shepard and George S. Kaufman," Happiness sets a family against itself with love and violence as the weapons of choice as each member searches for happiness. A former writer-in-residence at the Factory Theatre in Toronto and at New York Shakespeare Festival, Walker's other credits include Love and Anger, Criminals in Love and Theatre of the Film Noir.
Vital Theatre artistic director Stephen Sunderlin directs Happiness' family, which features Steve Brady, Michael Brandt, Ellen Daschbach, Elissa Groh, Chris Lindsay-Abaire, Patrick McCarthy, Marc Moritz, Carolyn Popp, Sarah Schoenberg and Erik Van Wick.
Michael Schloegl, leading the design team as production designer, is joined by Kari Dian Matin (lighting), Nikki Dawn Rudloff (costumes), Grace Schwindt (sets) and Ian Murphy (sound). Amanda Lowdenback is the stage manager.
Tickets are $12 and available by calling (212) 592-4508. The Vital Theatre Company is located at 432 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues.
-- By Christine Ehren