Spotlight Theater Lake Mary, FL
written by Gabi Mor and Eva Mor
directed by Garry Norris
Starring Pierre “Pete” Rougeux and Joshua Peter Childs
Normally, when death approaches you try to make sure you’re good with God. But in this alternate reality, Seth (Childers) works to get his dad Jim (Rougeux) good with a modern inclusive agenda. Jim’s a tough case, not only is he small town white folks, but his wife was shot in some sort of gang war, possibly by a black man. And don’t get him going on gays, Obama, or global warming. Jim’s prejudices are perfectly logical positions in his mind, just as each of our leanings are rightfully ours. But Seth reads him selected passages by Martin Luther King, and Jim dismisses them one by one like he’s swatting mosquitos. Next door we find the lesbian couple of OCD’ing Ayesha (Iris Johnson) and the sloppy stamp collector Paula (Michelle Burkett.) They each have their own issues and we consider the trade between standing up for our beliefs vs. compassion for the dying. The story develops along standard lines of attack, advance and rebuff; talking points get talked about and like WW1, the trenches are fixed, and little progress is made until one side collapses: Jim has a death bed conversion, and one more soul is saved.
Despite some rough edges on the story, the cast is well assembled and executes well under the hand of Director Norris. Mr. Rougeux is cranky, dismissive and confident; he’s an archetypical old geezer who’s not likely to change his spots, he’s thought things through logically and that’s that. But he can come out of his shell, he flashes some sympathy to earnest Paula when she finds a common chord. Seth’s persistence in the face of stubbornness might be compared to soldier in a stalemate of war: he does his job, accepts failure and tries again. Ms. Johnson flits from one intellectual flower to another; her fussy attention to detail seems plausible. Despite the blunt story, there’s a touching family drama lurking here. Jim is no different from any older relative in any of our lives: crusty, determined and unlikely to be swayed by any linear logical argument. And while we might think “OUR generation is different,” it’s not really. Our prejudices may change, but they too will seem stubborn foolishness to our children.