With its somewhere South of the Mason-Dixon Line setting, Dearly Departed is a made-for-Summerville play. With the sudden death of their patriarch, the Turpin's are fatefully thrust into one another's company to deal with giving Bud Turpin a decent burial, but with each family member froth with personal problems of their own, the task becomes amusingly complicated.
Raynelle Turpin, who apparently had a love-hate relationship with her husband, wants to put "mean and surly" on the headstone and in a meeting with the frustrated pastor who is seeking to write a virtuous eulogy, she sums up things by saying, "That's because you didn't know him till he was old and sick."
Then, add to the mix a wooden spoon wielding, Bible thumping, hellfire sister, an unemployed, somewhat philosophical nephew with dreams of getting married so he can go on welfare, Raynelle's seemingly unemotional daughter bent on consuming bags of potato chips and dilly bars for comfort in the chaos and the Turpin's circle of life is complete. In the end, despite themselves, the disinclined family and friends come together to give Bud his final send-off .
That's the whole, incredibly wacky story and its colorful collection of characters, and the challenge of bringing it all to life was masterfully accomplished by the plays able cast. As the candid Raynelle Turpin, matronly Jennifer Gordon's performance will put a chuckle in your smile. Chad Reuer as the daughter Delightful proved that men make the funniest woman and comical can be accomplished in just a few words. Chad Estel and Hannah Weston, fresh off a top notch performance in the highly acclaimed Moonlight and Magnolias, excelled once again as the plays splintered couple, unfaithful Junior and his distraught wife, Suzanne. Alan Rosenfeld as cautious spending Raybud presided over the affair with dignified flair and Jennifer Kliner portrayed Lucille, the character who brought a small dose of sanity into the family despite dealing with a personal crisis of her own, with sensible style. Show-stealer Rhonda Kierpiec judiciously wielded her Bible like her wooden spoon as Marguerite. Rounding out the cast and deserving honorable mention are Barry Gordon(Reverend Hooker), Daniel Rich(Royce), Anne O'Sullivan(Juanita), Robert Venne(Clyde), RaeAnn Estel(Nadine), Sacha Estel(Oprah), Sierra Solders(Norval), and Kerry Bowers(Veda).
Director John Bryan and crew have put together a beautiful set with smooth and easy to follow scene changes accompanied by effective lighting and props.
The Flowertown Players just keep on cranking out the hits. Dearly Departed is the latest addition to its very successful 2015 season. It's a simple story about a small town, southern American family seriously in need of a dose of Xanax--figuratively speaking. Its collection of Mayberry-like characters will leave you rolling in the aisles with laughter and warm your socially dysfunctional hearts. Now showing from March 20-29. Purchase your ticket to this drop-dead delightful play at Flowertown Players.