AISLE SAY Florida
Starring Sharon Scruggs
Asolo Repertory Theatre
Historic Asolo Theatre, Ringling
Sarasota, 941-351-8000; Jan. 11-Feb. 3, 2008
Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker
From this tour-de-force series of vignettes all narrated by Sharon Scruggs comes a short-short story lengthened to epic proportions. A clever set has angled white walls that move to show backstage costume/character changes. Wonderful comic-strip-colored projections move the characters from place to place, time to time. Everything about the staging is better than the story, concerning redheaded Rhonda, who's in a holding cell, probably a psychiatric facility. We yawn until we learn that she, wife of Graham and mother of a young boy, has shot and perhaps murdered someone. Before long the scenery progresses and Rhonda is morphing into her best friend Lynette. She defends herself while admitting urging Rhonda to revenge herself against a Russian jewelry saleswoman who has caused Graham's infidelity. Brunette Lynette is Sharon Scruggs' and author Robert Hewitt's most successful portrait, a backstabbing , busybody window dresser who was, according to the same actress' sleazy mustached Graham, having an affair with him. Scruggs also makes a valiant attempt to convey Rhonda's pitiful young son, but she's too old and big to pull it off convincingly. Two contrasting characters come out very well: starchy gay psychiatrist Alex, who preaches forgiveness, and the ultra sexy Russian blonde, who has no idea what caused the shooting.
Dressers and movers Dee Byrd and Richard B. Williams contribute 100% to the timing and moves so well choreographed by director Melissa Kievman. Clint Ramos is the genius behind the scenic and costume designs, with major help from Dan Scully's lighting and projections. Matthew Parker contributed effective blaring music and backing for scenic bridges, but spoken sounds often needed more projection. The production, stage managed by Jon Merlyn, is an American premiere. With so little to say, no matter how cleverly Scruggs says it, the show could have been left in Australia without being missed here.
Time: 2 hrs. plus a 15 min. intermission.