nytheatre.com review by Alyssa Simon
August 14, 2010
"Let's hear some noise, now, you ready for more show?"
That's the opening line of the fantastically funny and talented comedian Jim David's one-person whirlwind of a production, South Pathetic. It comes after a few minutes of pre-show announcements that grow hilariously more absurd such as, "The theatre is a revered and sacred temple. Violators who leave the theatre will be asked to leave the theatre." Trust me, you won't want to leave and miss a hysterical or touching moment.
The production, seamlessly directed by Peter Smith, the artistic director of the Tennessee Williams Center at Sewanee, Tennessee, is a satirical yet loving homage to anyone who has ever worked in community theatre, felt like a loser, or been trapped in a small town without pity. David plays himself, Jim David, a native of North Carolina who came to New York to be an actor, but the only acting work he can find is singing telegrams in a chicken suit.
He gets an offer from a friend of a friend of his mother's to direct a production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Thermal City Little Theater in Thermal City, North Carolina. "See?" He tells the audience, "It is all who you know!"
When he gets to the theatre, he finds out the play is already cast and that he is the replacement director. The first one fled screaming into the night. He is then introduced to his cast.
Bob Smith, salesman at Bob Bedford's Used Cars, is Mitch. He fills Jim in on what to expect from Ethelene McGraw, Thermal City Little Theater's resident diva who plays Blanche and has underwritten this production to perform for her group, the "Mothers of Morality." She wants to change the ending of the play. "People don't want to see depression and insanity", she informs the astounded Jim. "They can see that in Winston-Salem."
Darlinda Shepard is cast as Stella. Her real job is dancing at the Foxy Lady out on Route 47, and one of the notes Jim gives her after the first run-through is that although she may be a stripper, Stella is not.
Stanley is played by a Brooklynite, conveniently named Stanley, who moved to North Carolina to live with his retired mother after leaving the service and to escape a raging meth addiction that caused him to star in videos with names like "Tour Of Booty" and "Powertool 2."
Little Dickie, an awkward and homely teen who plays the paperboy, and Stanley Grand, the snobbish yet deeply insecure host of the only public radio station in the area, as the doctor, round out the cast.
Just as Jim begins to curse his fate, he gets a reality check from Slovan Sweientowowisze, the theatre janitor who was a chemical engineer in war torn Bosnia-Herzegovina and who has escaped with his wife to give his daughter a better life.
Why am I mentioning nearly every single character in this play?
Because Jim David plays them all expertly! With just a simple change of movement or tone, David has two characters arguing with each other and then breaks out to narrate to the audience before becoming someone else—and it is all crystal clear and deeply funny. David, who wrote the script as well, has created and brought to life full human beings who will make you laugh out loud at the same time your heart aches for them. Please go see this fabulous show!