‘Sordid Lives’ is a Southern Comfort

Earl, I think it's time you had a woman. (l-r Tom Gregory and Gerri Wilson)
Geri Wilson does her best to comfort (?) Tom Gregory in “Sordid Lives.”  Photo by Dane Dupuis

No surprise here that I LOVED the show!

This shockingly funny play about a bunch of small town Southern Baptists really hit home. I’m from a place in the Midwest not too much different than the very broadly played setting here so I could certainly identify, and still truly enjoy, the ridiculous caricatures and eccentric characters.

From the moment that Mary Sabo sidled out to the stage at the Southampton Cultural Center as Bitsy Mae Harling–clad in fishnets, cowboy boots, and unzipped Daisy Dukes no less–I was hooked. Her opening song intro said it all. “Ain’t it a bitch sorting out our sordid lives.”

Adding some gravitas (but not too much), John Leonard next appears as Ty Williamson in each of the comedy’s four acts. One assumes he’s a thinly veiled version of playwright Del Shores. Oh how I loved this character, who was all about self acceptance. And his lustrous mane of blond soap opera hair.  : ) He had me hooked from the story of his mother replacing the “husky” label on his jeans with “slim” fit tags all the way to the end. I actually cried when he told the tale of his reporter friend from Soap Opera Digest. Beautiful.

The absolute highlight of the show, for me, was the third act, leading to the nearly equally hilarious and touching denouement. This is when we finally got to see Brother Boy–who was brilliantly played by Tom Gregory. I don’t think there was an eyeball in the house that didn’t stay glued on this one. Very well done.

While on the topic of standouts, Edward Kassar, as GW, was terrific. I’ve seen Mr. Kassar in a ton of plays but I think this role is my favorite of his. I particularly like the way he absolutely nailed every “sumbitch” like a true southerner.

In the interest of saving your eyeballs, I’m going to address the rest of the play and its terrific ensemble cast of characters in shorthand. After all, YOU NEED TO GO SEE THIS AMAZING PLAY YOURSELF!

JoAnna Mincarelli as Sissy Hickey — Straight man and cigarette fiend. Funny.

Danielle Shuman as Noleta Nethercott — Our sad sack everywoman gets to break out of her shell as raise some hell. She reminded me of “Thelma and Louise” meets “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Yay.

Kristin Whiting as Latrelle Williamson — Oh Lord. The higher the (teased and back-combed) hair, the closer to God. She had me flashing back to Rev. Lynn’s wife back home in Indiana. Sugar wouldn’t melt in this woman’s mouth. Dreadfully accurate. Good job!

Frances Sherman as La Vonda Dupree — I like this hell raiser! We all need a little La Vonda in our lives to shake things up and set things right.

Scott Wilson as Wardell “Bubba” Owens — Totally transformed, thanks to a Beau Bridges wig and southern swagger. I loved this character. Way to go Scott!

Joseph Marshall as Odell Owens and Reverend Barnes– Simpleton and preacher. Teehee. Reminded me of one Rosco P. Coltrane. Good comic touches, and that ridiculous underwear …

Deborah Marshall as Juanita — It’s so hard to play drunk. This would, to me, be the most challenging part. Good on ya for shining through with the one-liners.

Gerri Wilson as Dr. Eve Bolinger — My favorite terrible mental health professional. Oh dear. Were you having a ball? You looked like you were. I did too.  : )

Final words. Thanks to Barbara Jo Howard for giving up her front row seat to me. Thanks to Daniel Becker for his enthusiasm and for sharing a premium table. And thanks to Michael Disher, Joan Lyons and the Southampton Cultural Center for daring to stage this outrageous and bawdy play. We MUST HAVE this type of theater here on the East End! Support it. Go see it. Laugh along and applaud when so moved. Make sure to tell your friends. Buy your tickets right now and then go cut loose for goodness sakes!




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