BWW Review: DEARLY DEPARTED - Light Comedy Perfection
I admit freely that I'm a huge fan of silly. I love English television comedy most because the Brits have a way of making fun of themselves in the most outrageously ridiculous situations, they never take comedy seriously. The Georgetown Palace Playhouse's production of DEARLY DEPARTED, while far from British, takes a page from the same book of silly with a no holds barred approach to laugh out loud theatre.
DEARLY DEPARTED by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones, predates Jones' collaborations with Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten who wrote local theatre favorites THE DIXIE SWIM CLUB, THE RED VELVET CAKE WAR and CHRISTMAS BELLES among others. Our story begins with the death of Bud Turpin (Todd Jeffery). His widow, Raynelle (Arden Treviño), his three children, Ray-Bud (Jake Maspero), Junior (Robert Joseph) and Delightful (Lisa Young), are the bereaved family left behind. Now his widow and various relatives must wrestle through the process of planting Bud six feet under. Hilarity, as they say, ensues. Bud's sister, Marguerite (Ashley Kelashian), is determined to see her brother buried with all the religious blessings that can be mustered. While Junior's wife, Suzanne (Fiona Condon) begins her drama queen version of mourning and Ray-Bud tries to save money on the funeral. The pace may be quick but the characters are endearing and familiar. One liners fly like mosquitoes at a summer picnic, and the show flows by effortlessly. This type of comedy is anything but effortless, they are the most difficult kind of theatre to perform; to keep the laughs rolling, the story moving and the set shifting from scene to scene is difficult, but the cast and crew of DEARLY DEPARTED is more than equal to the task.
Ashley Zoch's direction is flawless, she nails the pacing and the scene changes are impeccable. Her grasp of the material and how it should be played is impressive. The cast is outstanding, there's not a single weak link in the bunch, but among my favorites are Arden Trevino as Raynelle, the recent widow. Treviño is the eye of the comic hurricane and plays her role with a wry humor tinged with a dash of sadness. Fiona Condon as Suzanne is out and out hysterical. Her drama queen antics create show stopping moments that leave the audience gasping for breath. As Marguerite, Ashley Kelashian is a comic force to be reckoned with, her delivery and timing are outstanding. Jake Maspero as Ray-Bud and Clint Cox as Royce provide tons of redneck humor and some of the show's' best moments. As always, Faith Castaneda's lighting design is excellent, not an easy feat in the Playhouse space. Ellen Simms, costume design is clever, making the fast paced show move smoothly. DEARLY DEPARTED is absolutely worth the trip to Georgetown, but only if you're ready to laugh yourself silly for two hours straight. It is indeed the best show I have seen thus far at the new Playhouse theatre space.
March 30 - April 22
Running Time: 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission
Tickets: $28 - $30, georgetownpalace.com