By Tommy Lee Johnson
Directed by BeeJay Aubetin Clinton
Starring Sean Kemp and Carol Jaqueline Palumbo
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL
I always find “old folks” comedies a bit uncomfortable. If you’re lucky, you staring your own future, and if not, well, that’s even sadder. This show offers some good laughs but it’s really about the sad side of hanging out until you die. Gina (Palumbo) runs this small community of Aging Americans as she struggles with her own drinking problem. Can’t say as I blame her, this job offers little emotional upside. Her new assistant Jack (Kemp) is even farther along the spectrum; he barely talks and seems one pill short of spending his life rocking back and forth humming to himself. But as a writer, he reluctantly begins to collect these old timer’s stories in a beat up notebook. Garry Norris is a cranky one, he’s ex-military and proud of it. Vicki Wicks is the flirty one, she’s out to seduce anything remotely seducible, and Larry Stallings is the sad one, he’s grieving his wife who will never be back. That just leaves Mary Lee Stallings as Emily; she’s got one of these ancient lady hairstyles that my mom wore up until her death, and her entire world involves singing along to commercial jingles on TV.
There are cute moments and sad moments and sunny ones as well, but this is the most serious role I’ve seen Larry Stallings tackle. There’s some real pathos under his normally comic exterior, and you see it here tonight. Kemp’s self-absorbed rocking disturbs; it’s not clear he’s less in need of institutionalization than these other mooks. Ms. Wicks’ flirtiness sometimes went into some dark corners, and Mr. Norris was an exact replica of many vets I’ve worked for: proud, in your face, and a little scary. Ultimately, Ms. Palumbo was the earth mother goddess of all these lost souls; she’d make a good mom on and off stage. This is your future, America: if you don’t OD or burn up in an airplane crash you too may be singing along with the Draino man.
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