A Southern Belle Primer held its audience well, but where was the laughter – smiles, yes, but those lines carried great import in the area of making fun of Southerners. And don’t tell this writer that Southerners don’t like to be made fun of. They do it to themselves, and enjoy it. But the lines have to be dramatized in a way that the listener catches the pitch as it is thrown.
This writer was a bit “thrown,” not by the actors or directors (who should claim success), but by the script itself. The idea of Ruth Bledsoe having to read her script and drink tea in order to combat voice fatigue was exhausting, both for her and the audience. There was a need to listen hard to all the great quips – the playwright knew them – which fell short of the punch they needed to get a full-bodied laugh.
Oh, those funny lines about the casseroles – could they not have been worked into a conversation with the three superb actresses? Grandmother (and her Southern drawl) was so perfectly coifed and gowned – where did the costumer (kudos to you) find that costume? Ahh, those pearls. And granddaughter with her pouts and punches (with words and slang, mind you) was entertaining, especially with that hair that was such a foil for Grandma’s. Just a younger rendition, really.
And the daughter, played by Kristen Castillo was wonderful in the way she switched her hips and almost used the clinched teeth effect that sorority girls know so well (remember the Southerner in Auntie Mame?). Was Ms. Castillo a sorority sister herself? She knew the clichés (in body language).
It was a bit of a come-down at the end, when Grandmother decides the house is old and does not need so much touring anyway. They come together as if they need each other more than the proclivities of the society they live in. The playwright came to a reasonable conclusion.
Was Ted Swindley, author, writing for the Southerner, or maybe other “cultures” of our country. There was laughter in the audience, but it seemed to have a northern ring.
(This writer suggests the readers of this article attend the play – it is well worth it – and report to this newspaper their thoughts.)