Friday, November 6, 2009

'Southern Comforts' seductively charming | www.azstarnet.com ®

'Southern Comforts' seductively charming | www.azstarnet.com ®

The Arizona Daily Star

Published: 11.06.2009
'Southern Comforts' seductively charming
By Kathleen Allen
ARIZONA DAILY STAR

The North and South are at it again.

It's not quite a civil war in Kathleen Clark's "Southern Comforts," which Invisible Theatre opens next week.
But it is a bit of a war between two septuagenarians, she from the South — Tennessee — he from the North — New Jersey.

They fall in love, but it ain't easy.


Amanda (Maedell Dixon) and Gus (Douglas Mitchell) star in the Invisible Theatre's production of "Southern Comforts," a romantic comedy.
Tim Fuller / Courtesy of Invisible Theatre


"Southerners are a little bit more spirited," Clark explained in a phone interview from her New Jersey home. "Northerners are a bit more staid."
Clark knows what she's talking about — her family is a big mixture of people from both parts of the country.

The Northerners love that partying but are a bit perplexed by it.
"There's a little bit of that New England Yankee thing going on with them," she said. "That is not how they party."

The dichotomy between the two served Clark well with her love story.
Amanda is visiting her daughter in New Jersey when she meets Gus. They are both widowed, and romance is not on either's agenda.

He is stubborn, austere, set in his ways. She is gregarious, social and set in her ways.
Naturally, love steps in.

Clark knew the difference in geographical and cultural backgrounds would make for good comedy.
But she was concerned about the acceptance of a play that's a romance about two people in their 70s.
"I know they are older," Clark said, "but I feel that we all have these bumps in the road — old and young."
It seems her instinct was right:
"Sincere, warm and filled with poignant longing," Entertainment Weekly said when the play made its New York City off-Broadway debut.

The New York Times called it "delightful" and "sneakily sexy."
And Susan Claassen, Invisible Theatre's artistic director, said she was seduced by the play of opposites in "Southern Comforts."

"The potential of the relationships was so interesting to me — the cultural differences, and the quirky personality differences," she said.

"As the playwright said, when it comes to love, the hardest part isn't loving, but learning how to live with the person. That is what this plays shows us."

if you go
• "Southern Comforts"
• Presented by: Invisible Theatre.
• Playwright: Kathleen Clark.
• Director: Harold Dixon.
• Where: Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
• When: Preview 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; opening 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Regular shows are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays (no show Nov. 26); 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 3 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 29.
• Tickets: Preview $16, regular performances $22-$25. Half-price rush-hour tickets available one-half hour before curtain; subject to availability.
• Reservations/information: 882-9721.
• Cast: Maedell Dixon and Douglas Mitchell.
• Running time: 2 hours with one intermission.
Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at kallen@azstarnet.com or 573-4128