Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Dearly Departed" Now Showing--Drop-Dead Delightful

Why we Americans find family dysfunction amusing is an enigma and the 1991 crazy comedy written by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones now playing at the James F. Dean Theatre banks on that fact. From the moment "mean and surly" Bud Turpin's head thumps the kitchen table to his incurably maladjusted family's final farewells, the laughs are non-stop and you will depart the Flowertown Players latest offering pathetically delighted and neurotically charmed.

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."

Raybud, the oldest son, concerned about the costs, neurotically thinks the owner of the funeral home handling the burial arrangements might seek revenge on him for a childhood prank and mostly concerned for the cost of each letter, differs with his mother over the wording on the headstone. Junior, the other son, who is teetering on financial ruin and thinks about running over his wife with his big cleaning machine in a K-Mart parking lot, is further embarrassed when she discovers an earring in the backseat of the car while yelling at their out-of-control children on their way to his mother's house.

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.

1 comment:

sherry solders said...

Thank you for writing this :) I shared it on Facebook as well. Oh and my daughter pays Norval/radio announcer! I just wish you would have a picture of all cast members when you post about plays