This past weekend Columbia Missouri’s Columbia Entertainment Company opened the Del Shores-written play Sordid Lives, a tale of intertwined familial angst over relationships that didn’t turn out quite the way the characters had hoped. This tongue-in-cheek dramedy which takes place in small-town Texas and a therapist’s office in New York City in 1998 centers around the death of the family matriarch. The show delivers some over the top laughs while trying to send a deeper message of tolerance.
I haven’t been to a CEC production in years, and as I walked in I began to feel very nostalgic. Unfortunately for opening night the place was barely half-full, which was a shame. The actors really gave it their all, and even though for me this particular type of play was not my normal cup of tea (I normally gravitate towards more lighthearted and uplifting comedic fare) I was impressed with a few key actors and some one-liners that really zinged.
Without giving too much away – the show runs the next two weekends; go see it – the play is divided into four acts and tells the stories of friends and family caught up in narrow-mindedness and ignorant “this is how it’s always been” simplicity while trying desperately to keep their skeletons safely hidden away in the closet.
Even though opening night left the timing and flow of the show a little off, a few stand-outs in the cast deserve mention. Lena Ajans Mitchell as Sissy Hickey is wonderful in the role of the harried woman shoved in the middle of a family crisis, trying to keep her sanity and kick her smoking habit at the worst possible time. Dana Naylor as Noleta Nethercott is great as the prim, proper southern woman who will do anything to keep up appearances. Eric M. Seely as Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram practically carries an otherwise weaker third act with his outlandish yet sympathetic performance. But my favorite by far was the understated yet hilarious Dianna Long as Juanita Bartlett. Her one liners were well-delivered and brought out quite a few loud laughs from the audience.
The material of Sordid is pretty heavy at times, so it’s definitely for mature audiences only. Next up for CEC, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, coming up next month.
Columbia Entertainment Company is located at 1800 Nelwood Drive Columbia, MO 65202-2315. Sordid Lives plays May5th through 8th and the 12th through 15th . Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for students, and $8 for seniors and children. Check out the CEC website for more details.