April 1, 2007
I was in a play last night.
Actually, I was in a play reading, and I was in two. It was an evening of three one-acts, and two of the three had parts for "an attractive woman in her 60's," and, that being an unusual description in casts of characters, I jumped at the chance. Not having to memorize lines or commit to a grueling rehearsal schedule was another attraction.
The plays were written by Ron Mezsaros, a local writer-about-town who has had the works exposed to audiences at writers' readings at Martin Lanaux Booksellers (formerly Over the Transom Books) for a year or so. How he got my name I'm not sure, as I've been out of the theatre business in Fairhope for some time. The last show I was in was Dancing at Lughnasa at Theater 98 in 2002, and the last thing I directed was a production of "The Night Before Christmas" at the Marietta Johnson School Christmas before last. It's nice to be remembered.
At first glance I wasn't that taken with the plays. The first one -- did I say "attractive woman"? -- was a duet between a Southern dragon-cum-matriarch who gradually reveals the family secrets to her reluctant daughter-in-law whom she expects to carry on the traditions of deception and role-playing that she feels are vital to holding the family together. The script was wordy and had its awkward moments, but the role was too juicy to pass up.
It was intriguing to me that anyone could imagine such people as these characters living in Fairhope. Certainly not my Fairhope, but who knows? Maybe they just moved in when they won the lottery.
At the first reading, I was knocked out by the performance of my partner in the show. She went toe-to-toe with me and proved a worthy complement to the complex and nasty piece of work I was playing. At the end of the reading I discovered she was Heather Delker, daughter of my friends Terry and Steve! She got better and better, and was just perfect last night.
The play got better too. This is the advantage of work like this. Ron realized the play needed cutting, and cut he did, so that by the actual production we had a tight little show that had jaws dropping and got a few laughs as well.
The central play was a comedy about two guys who break into an antique bookstore in Fairhope in order to rob the safe -- one for money so he can have a date with Salma Hayek, and the other to steal what he thinks is a photo of the second shooter from the Book Depository in Dallas. It was a hoot, even though Ron had to step in and cover for an actor with an emergency -- and there was a mixup when one of the actors literally lost his place on the page. This caused much laughter and actually may have been the most fun the audience had in the evening.
In the last play I had my greatest triumph. I had to play a stylish widow...and when I looked in my closet I realized I would have to go shopping. I ended up buying a new dress, Michael Kors, in Mobile, with what we used to call a plunging neckline -- it kept plunging further as the night went on -- and a flirty skirt. I found some black spiky pumps in my closet, a pair of "control-top" pantyhose that worked magic, and I felt absolutely gorgeous in the role. I had a few killer monologues and felt quite free to chew the scenery a bit.
There was even a party after this extravaganza, at the local watering hole called Mateer's. The table was full of friends of the playwright, and the discussion was fun and wide-ranging. It felt good to be out at night for a change.