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The Suburbanite
  • Theater review: ‘Sordid Lives’ has its moments

  • The play reaches peaks of high hilarity, and I laughed heartily at times.

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  • Friday’s opening night performance of “Sordid Lives” attracted the largest crowd I’ve ever seen at the Howland Theatre, the performing space located underneath 2nd April Galerie.
    The place was packed to the walls with a lively crowd eager to laugh at the outrageous antics in this raunchy and over-the-top stage creation from playwright Del Shore. The play reaches peaks of high hilarity, and I laughed heartily at times.
    Especially funny is a character named Juanita, played by Ellen Fox, a drunken barfly with a volcano-shaped, flame-red wig and delicious, booze-delayed comic timing. She appears less like an actress’s creation than someone imported from a shabby tavern down the block.
    Hairdos are a running gag in the show. A transvestite named Brother Boy (played by David Bowen), who closely identifies with country singer Tammy Wynette and lip-syncs her hit “Stand By Your Man,” sports an elaborate pyramid of platinum hair.
    Billed as “a dark comedy about white trash,” the play is set in rural Texas and concerns the impending funeral of a matriarch who has died in a seedy motel while sleeping wth the husband of her daughter’s best friend. The colorful characters sport names such as Noleta, Latrelle, LaVonda, Wardell, Odell and Bitsy Mae.
    An unusual concoction, the play includes a scene in which two vengeful women (including the fiercely funny Jacki Dietz), force men in a redneck bar to strip to their underwear, wear women’s makeup and kiss each other, and another in which a homophobic mental-hospital therapist (Patrice Rittenhouse) lewdly forces herself on Brother Boy, who resembles a sad clown.
    Remaining performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $10 at 330-451-0924.