Monday, July 26, 2010

Yellow at the Coast

L to R David Cowgill, Kristen McCullough, Evie Louise Thompson and Luke McClure

Del Shores has been writing plays for a long time. In 1983 "Daddy's Dyin' and Who's Got the Will?" opened to stunning reviews at Jeff Murray’s Theatre/Theater in Hollywood. Del has been prolific on the theatre scene as well as having produced and directed at least one film and worked on high stakes television shows. His ability to round out a character and at once make an audience think, laugh and weep continues to develop with time.

YELLOW, written and directed by Shores at The Coast Playhouse, examines a modern southern family, the Westmorelands, of Vicksburg, Mississippi: the father Bobby (David Cowgill), Katie, his wife (excellent Kristen McCullough), football hero Dayne (Luke McClure), and his frantic sister, Gracie (enthusiastic Evie Louise Thompson). As Dayne enters his senior year of high school, Bobby, a former NFL football player turned PE Teacher/Football coach, has high hopes for his son. The kid is a natural and both are dedicated to a great final season.

Gracie is a fifteen year old “actress” whose histrionics as a fanatical high school drama student burst like IEDs in an attempt to get her parents’ attention. Hormones raging, her sibling rivalry with big brother Dayne reaches fever pitch causing their parents to sigh and shake their heads. It’s a phase.

s the Westmorelands celebrate their wedding anniversary, a brief feeling of situation comedy permeates early in the play. We then meet Kendall (tres gai Matthew Scott Montgomery), Gracie’s gay guy pal. Kendall is an aspiring musical comedy star who can quote the plot line of any Broadway show and sing a number to document his love of the genre. Gay through and through, Kendall facilitates one issue through which Shores develops a theme of tolerance evolving into a strong polemic.

The play takes a sharp turn to the right as Kendall’s mother, Sister Timothea Parker (the evangelical Susan Leslie) appears. Sister Timothea is a fervent fundamentalist Christian Woman who can quote both Testaments to prove any point. There’s a fine line between parody and a sincere portrayal of this type of character. Leslie treads this line with frightening perfection.

Shores’ ability to direct his own work, simply, works. From time to time his actors deliver lines directly upstage and some other choices either by the direction or that the actors have made are slightly distracting, but the play works. The message works. The actors are all on the same page at the same time.

Robert Steinberg’s contemporary set is perfect, capturing the middle class status of the Westmorelands. Kathi O’Donohue’s always excellent lighting design accentuates and isolates individual scenes flawlessly.

That YELLOW has been extended for six weeks and had a full house for a Sunday matinee speaks to the fact that good press and word of mouth have done their job. The sensitivity with which Shores intertwines familiar themes of his past work: fidelity, homosexuality and fundamentalist religion, continues to leave audiences laughing and emotionally involved. Themes in this play don’t hit us over the head, but lead us to come to our own conclusions. Redemption and forgiveness are only available when even our deepest feelings are given an opportunity to find their way to new understandings.

YELLOW written and directed by Del Shores
Coast Playhouse
8325 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood

Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM
Sundays at 2PM and 7PM
Extended through Sunday September 5, 2010
Tickets: / or by calling 800 595 4849
$34.99 Top

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