This Side of Crazy a solid hit at NCTC

Photo: (l-r) Cheryl Smith (Rachel Blaylock Hanks), Amy Meyers (Bethany Blaylock), Christine Macomber (Ditty Blaylock), and Alison Whismore (Abigail Blaylock). In NCTC “This side of Crazy.”

THIS SIDE OF CRAZY: Comedy written and directed by Del Shores.  New Conservatory Theatre Center, Decker Theatre, 25 Van Ness Ave @ Market St, San Francisco, CA.  (415) 861-8972 or boxoffice@nctcsf.org.  WORLD PREMIERE  September 20 – October 20, 2019.

This Side of Crazy a solid hit at NCTC   Rating: ★★★★★

Del Shores a true auteur has returned to the Bay Area to direct his latest satirical campy opus This Side of Crazy receiving its world premiere to an enthusiastic audience at the New Conservatory Theatre Center on Saturday night. He has admonished directors of his most successful play Sordid Lives, “These people are real. Don’t play them as cartoons, please!” He follows his own advice and his amazing cast brings individuality to his characters.

Those characters are the dysfunctional Blaylock family of mother Dittty (Christine Macomber), oldest Abigail (Alison Whismore), second in line Rachel (Cheryl Smith) and youngest Bethany (Amy Meyers). Ditty has been a very successful religious song writer and she trained her three young daughters to be singers that became famous travelling the hallelujah circuit as the “Little Superstars for Jesus.”  The time is now and the place is the family home in Texas where Ditty and Rachel live with Rachel’s comatose husband in an upper bedroom where she still has sex with him while Ditty plays Russian roulette with an empty gun..

An unnamed church is going to have big shindig to honor Ditty and she has promised to bring the “Little Superstars for Jesus” together as part of the festivities but has not informed them. When she informs Rachel of her plans the question of how is Ditty going to bring them together arises. Ditty says, “I wrote Abigail and Bethany checks for $5,000 but did not sign them.”  Yes they do show up to get the checks signed.

The early scenes are devoted to the tangled relationship between Ditty and Rachel who is really screwed up and has become a vlogger (video logger) who ironically gives upbeat advice over the internet. Vivacious Bethany is first to arrive with her blank check in hand and we learn that she a stripper, a lesbian and an atheist with Ditty stating “Nobody is a real atheist.”

Next to arrive is Abigail who has been confined to a mental institution rather than jail 25 years ago for attempted murder. The animosity of Rachel for Abigail almost sets up a physical confrontation that raises the question “Why?”  That answer is a shocker that will not be revealed in this review

With all the characters in place Shores, line by line fills in the blanks with brilliant dialog that gives verisimilitude to each in this “brand new play about fame, family and finding our way back home.” The play is written in multiple scenes that perfectly fit together like a jigsaw puzzle with a stunning but satisfying ending. The seriousness of the plot line is softened with classic zingers that bring spontaneous laughter throughout the long two act two hour and 40 minute play that is so well written it verifies Alfred North Whitehead’s concept of relative time.

 Christine Macomber has most of the dialog and her range of emotions could not be improved with delivery of even a simple line of “Don’t talk to me in that tone of expression!” The interaction between her and Cheryl Smith will make you feel like a voyeur while choosing sides between the two. Amy Meyers as the vivacious but wounded Bethany adds spark to the harshness of the interpersonal infighting. Alison Whismore makes you feel the inner turmoil of Abigails’ 25 years of confinement.

The creative staff have given marvelous detail to every area of this production. The stage  is a detailed multi-area set of dining-living room, bedroom, porch with single revolving cushioned chair down stage  right  in front of a TV cabinet that is symbolic of Ditty’s infatuation with the past. The costuming by Wes Crain is exceptional and all this is wrapped up with spot on sound and lights.

Highly recommended even  though  they only partially arrive at [song] “The City of Gold.”.

CAST: Christine Macomber (Ditty Blaylock), Amy Meyers (Bethany Blaylock), Cheryl Smith (Rachel Blaylock Hanks), and Alison Whismore (Abigail Blaylock).

CREATIVE TEAM: Written and Directed by Del Shores; Scenic design by Kate Boyd; Wig design by David Carver-Ford; Costume design by Wes Crain; Stage management by Emma Gifford; Props design by Toni O’Brien; Sound design by Kalon Thibodeaux; Lighting design by Patrick Toebe.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.

Photo: (l-r) Cheryl Smith (Rachel Blaylock Hanks), Amy Meyers (Bethany Blaylock), Christine Macomber (Ditty Blaylock), and Alison Whismore (Abigail Blaylock). In NCTC “This side of Crazy.”