by Terrance Mc Arthur
Did you ever have one of those times when a group of people find themselves together and suddenly become a set of BFF’s (Best Friends Forever)? Did you ever feel so beaten down by life that you wished someone could give your life a boost in a better direction?
Take a look at The Savannah Sipping Society, a laugh-filled ray of hope at the Good Company Players’ 2nd Space Theatre through August 11.
When three escapees from a grueling yoga class bond over drinks, they find kindred spirits, even with their major differences. Ronda (Anna Martinez) crashed into the glass ceiling as an architect. Dot (Wendy Snyder-Crabtree) is newly widowed by a workaholic who ran out of time. Marlafaye (Jayne Day) was dumped by a husband chasing his young dental hygienist. Each woman sees herself as a loser, filled with anger, anger they hilariously take out on a generic male doll.
Enter Jinx (Elizabeth Woods-Childers), a “life coach” with problems of her own, who propels the Society into a whirlwind of confidence-building, boundary-testing experiences that range from salsa dancing to Renaissance Fairing to dating. What they learn is that friendship is the foundation of life.
Martinez moves from being a doormat everyone (even her new friends) takes advantage of to emerging as a confident, independent woman in the course of the evening, a journey that is even reflected in her posture and movement.
Snyder-Crabtree is gentle, but stronger than she looks. That strength manifests itself when she is willing to reach out to her tiny sisterhood when she faces a crisis. She’s the least showy of the women, but she is a rudder that stabilizes the wild-and-crazy shenanigans that go on around her.
Day may be a newcomer to GCP, but she has been a longtime bulwark of the Fresno Rogue Festival, a capable person who can handle any situation. As Marlafaye, she is a force to be reckoned with, a Catherine Wheel of energy as a Texas transplant to Savannah, a Wild West buckaroo in the Genteel South.
Lorna Leslie and Haylie Weakley are the “Ensemble,” extras in crowd scenes and movers of scenery, and providers of one of the show’s biggest surprise laughs.
The writing team of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Weston are masters of the Southern Comedy genre, with a score of titles to their credit, including Red Velvet Cake War and Dixie Swim Club, plays that might not light up Broadway theatres, but they are staples of regional and community theatres. Savannah Sipping Society mixes knee-slapping jokes with female bonding. This is not just the stage equivalent of a chick-flick; the men in the audience were laughing as much as the women.
Director Julia Reimer uses a lot of circular staging, often used in theatrical predator-prey situations. Here, it emphasizes the group’s reliance on each other. Ginger Kay Lewis Reed’s costumes are lovingly jokey, emphasizing the silliness of the women’s efforts of self-realization, but often looking good on them (OK, Day’s Renfair outfit is a laughter magnet.). David Pierce’s set transports us to a South of clinging vines and sipping whiskey, and there is a lot of sipping in this show.
It’s a fun way to spend a summer evening, so give yourself a treat and see this show.
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