Savannah Sipping Society: Ensemble ticking like clockwork
Black box at its very best: check! Ensemble ticking like clockwork: check! Casting so perfect you can’t imagine any other actors making these characters: check! A constant flow of laughter made all the more poignant by the sometimes hard knocks we know life gives us all at times: check!
Pacifica Spindrift’s newest production of The Savannah Sipping Society puts us on the front porch with these four ladies brought into each others’ lives—and ours—by a chance meeting at a yoga class that evolves into an endearing and enduring friendship. Like any friendship, it has its share of squabbles and misunderstandings, but more to the point it grows into something like a four-way partnership, largely under the prodding of the somewhat pushy life-coach/beautician “Jinx” (Nancy Martin).
They’ve all lost something of value, a relationship, a marriage, a sibling, that once had shaped their lives, had given it a sense of meaning, and now in their middle age these four women are finding they must adapt to change. And they do. One of the sweet virtues of this script allows them to evolve, almost imperceptibly, from who they are at rise, to who they will become by curtain.
The impeccable casting could not have been better, a physicality wedded with voice and demeanor that each of these four women fill with vitality and assurance. It feels as if we’ve always known them. “Dot” (Roxane Ashe) is a widow, learning how to get along on her own. “Marlafaye” (Pamela Ciochetti) is still trying to get over the heartache wrought by her cheating ex-husband. They convene on Friday evenings on the veranda of driven career-woman “Randa” (Shari E. Lewis), who suddenly finds herself without a job, an income, and a sense of identity.
It’s a perfect ensemble piece for the Muriel Watkin Performance Space black box staging. Anything larger would dilute the intimacy we see and share in. Each has a couple of turns in the spotlight, a soliloquy spoken directly to the audience, as though we too are friends to be included in some of the secrets, some of the insights that maybe these ladies are reluctant to share with each other.
The whole show comes together under the sure hand of Spindrift veteran director Debi Durst, who knew from the moment she read the script that she wanted to bring it to this stage. And we can be glad she did.
The room only seats about 30, so it sells out quickly. If you don’t want to miss it, you can get your tickets now at the online box office.
The Savannah Sipping Society, script by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sunday matinees through November 24, 2019
Review by David Hirzel