Scarvey play review: Lee Street Theatre offers stress-busting one-act festival

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Katie Scarvey
For a small town, Salisbury is drama-rich. We have Piedmont Players Theatre, of course, which has given us glorious community theater for years. We have Catawba College and its consistently excellent theater offerings, plus we have the St. Thomas Players. So the question is, can Salisbury sustain another theater group?
If the new Lee Street Theatre’s one-act festival opening last night was any indication, then yes, absolutely.
Playing at the Looking Glass Artist Collective at 405 N. Lee Street, the one-acts include two by the darkly comic Christopher Durang and one by Mooresville playwright Marla Brown.
Kicking off the night was Durang’s “Stye of the Eye.” Directed by Darryl Casper, it’s a parody of Sam Shepherd’s “A Lie of the Mind” ó although knowledge of that play isn’t necessary to enjoy this one.
Although the audience opening night was fairly small, waves of laughter rolled through the black box theater again and again.
Darryl Casper is hugely funny as Jake, and Nancy Brandt is hilariously clueless as Jake’s mom, whose response to her son’s confession that he’s killed his wife Beth (Amy McCachren) in a fit of pique over her theater involvement (“going off to them rehearsals”) is to suggest that Jake marry his sister. But is his wife really dead, or has he “just brain-damaged her”?
Adding to the fun are Lee Piper as the psychiatrist and Robert Jones as Wesley, who wanders around in boxer shorts saying things like, “Why is Pop nekkid in the hunter’s cabin?” Tammie Casper and Mary Ann McCubbin round out this very funny cast.
I have not laughed so loudly, so often, for a long time.
“Dinner with God” by Marla Brown, directed by Claudia Galup, also proved entertaining. Len Clark plays a smug and eccentric God who likes Cheez Whiz and refuses to explain “man nipples” to the woman (Jennifer Hubbard) who’s hosting him for dinner. He won’t turn water into wine, either, because “that’s Jesus’ thing.” Preston Mitchell rounds out the cast as the frustrated playwright.
In “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls” (a parody of “The Glass Menagerie”), Jamison Middlemiss plays the limping, asthmatic Lawrence, whose only pleasure in life is his collection of glass cocktail stirrers. Mary Ann McCubbin is his long-suffering mother, who encourages him to exude “charm and vivacity” with his “feminine caller” ó who turns out to be a deaf lesbian, played by Sarah Drinkard.
I don’t know if this sounds funny, but it absolutely is.
All in all, it’s a fabulous evening of light theatre ó the perfect way to shuck off some stress over your now-puny retirement accounts. Be warned: these plays contain adult language and content.
The festival continues at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday and Oct. 30-Nov.1. See today’s Lifestyle section for more information.