Archikulture Digest

Daddy’s Dying – Who’s Got The Will?

Daddy’s Dying – Who’s Got The Will?

By Del Shores

Directed by Tara Corless

Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL</strong>

There’s this playwriting rule – if you set a play in Texas, it’s always the hottest week of the year. Never set a story when the Blue Bonnets bloom, no one would know what that means. But we all know hot, the sidewalks are melting in Lawicke Texas, and Daddy (Bill Horine) isn’t long for this world – strokes and dementia have eaten his brain and his squabbling family circles hoping to take a bite of his cash. But he was “correcting” his will when the latest stroke struck and no one knows where the document might be. Mama Wheelis (Karen Edward Hill) preps for the death and you can smell the lavender powered and denture cream in the front row. While she’s religious, she knows when she’s being BS’d. Appearances are all here, in a small town that’s the glue that welds social cracks that would make most people move to a big city. Resentful daughter Sarah Lee (Candy Heller) stayed at home to care for her parents which helped her dodge the problems of getting a man or moving away, or both. Evalita (Nikki Darden) has plenty of men, she has a “frequent divorcer” card and once she’s done with Harmony (Daniel Cooksley) she’s entitled to a year’s worth of Turtle Wax and a 2 night vacation to Biloxi. Lurlene (Sylvia Vicchiullo) ran off with a Baptist preacher, and her devotion to Jesus R. Savior has given her the head of hair that indicates she’s on the short list for heaven. And then there’s abuse Orville (Christian Reed) with his padded tummy and his cowed wife Marlene (Genn Gannon) – he ain’t too bright, and isn’t going to take any competition from anyone he can slap around.

It’s a typical dysfunctional family, and much funnier than “August Osage County.” Everyone on stage bounces off Sara Lee as they pursue nefarious agenda, and each paints a slice of us that we would prefer not to watch. Orville and Evalita take the imitative; they tear the place apart knowing that whoever finds the will must then survive the knife fight. I loved Evalita’s hair; it looked like a tombstone and deserved a separate credit in the program. Lurlene denies any interest in filthy lucre, but it COULD help build her hubby a mega church somewhere decent, like Abilene. Cooksley looked smelly and seedy as Harmony – we haven’t seen him in a while and it was good to have a rock solid hippy on stage, and Edwards-Hill as Mama Wheelis reminded me of the old Carol Burnet show as the straight-laced older woman who accidently swears. It’s classic American humor. Even demented Daddy got some great sight gags with his tuxedo boxers and incoherent monologs to himself. The laughter here is nervous, these people aren’t that far away from our own homes, and let’s face it – it gets pretty hot here in Florida. This is a fun show, and if they could afford anything stronger than a 2 by 4 air conditioner, the room might have been cooler.

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