The pleasant-and-charming play about acceptance, currently running at Venice Theatre’s Mainstage, is a gentle reminder of what really matters in life. Set in 1949, the tale reflects life in a small Southern town, similar to the mill town in Georgia, where its author, Pamela Parker, was born, and populated by folks who all know and gossip about one another.
Parker began writing plays in the late 1980s; her first three were one acts produced in New York City. “Second Samuel” is her first full-length play, and in 1992 was named best original play by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Director Murray Chase brings out both the comedy and the pathos of the material, especially enjoyable when it pokes fun at gender. The stage is divided into three settings. Stage left is Omaha, Neb.’s beauty shop, where the women gather. Center stage is a small house designated for “Piano Lessons”; and stage right is occupied by the Bait and Brew, where the men down a few and chew the fat. The design is most effective in Act 2, as the townsfolk’s reactions to a startling and significant event are hilariously contrasted.
Hunter Cross plays B-Flat, the main character and a mentally challenged young man who also serves as narrator. Cross’ performance rings touching and true in both posture and speech, reminiscent of Tom Hanks as “Forrest Gump.” The other well-defined characters, all quite nicely played in ensemble fashion, include Frisky, played by Mike Gilbert; Carroll Hunter as U.S.; Allan Kollar as Mansel; Douglas Snure as Mr. Mozel; Lori Chase as Omaha; Kim Kollar as Jimmy DeeAnne; Arianna DeCecco as Ruby; Nancy Denton as Marcela; Jim Lovett as Doc; and Neil Kasanofsky as June.
Scenic designer Donna Buckalter has added to the ambience with some great vintage finds, both fishy and glam, to adorn the abodes, and costume designer Francine Smetts helps us to remember what era we’re in with sausage curls and dyed-to-match heels.
IF YOU GO
“Second Samuel” runs through May 19, at Venice Theatre. For more information, call 488-1115.