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"Anatomy of a Hug," August 19-27, Trustus Theatre, 254-9732.
"Driving Miss Daisy," September 1-11, Sumter Little Theatre, 775-2150.
"My Fair Lady," September 9-25, Town Theatre, 799-2510.
"Tail! Spin!" September 9-17, Trustus Side Door Theatre, 254-9732.
"The Hound of the Baskervilles," September 9-18, Chapin Theatre Company, 240-8544.
"The Music Man," September 23 - October 9, Village Square Theatre, 359-1436.
"A Midsummer Night's Dream," September 30 - October 8, USC Drayton Hall, 777-5208.
"Big, the Musical," September 30 - October 9, On Stage Productions, 351-6751.
"Grounded," October 7-12, USC Lab Theatre, 777-5208.
"The Rocky Horror Show," October 7 - November 5, Trustus Theatre, 254-9732.
"Ain't Misbehavin'," October 20-30, Sumter Little Theatre, 775-2150.
"Cosi," November 11-19, USC Longstreet Theatre, 777-5208.
"Almost, Maine," November 17-20, USC Lab Theatre, 777-5208.
"A Christmas Carol, the Musical," December 1-18, Town Theatre, 799-2510.
"A Christmas Story," December 1-11, Sumter Little Theatre, 775-2150.
"'Twas the Night...," December 2-10, On Stage Productions, 351-6751.
"Deck the Halls With Chardonnay," December 2-11, Shapin Theatre Company, 240-8544.
"The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical," December 2-17, Trustus Theatre, 254-9732.
"You Can't Take it With You," January 20 - February 5, Town Theatre, 799-2510.
" Boy," January 13-21, Trustus Side Door Theatre, 254-9732.
Press Releases for Current Shows
Camden Community Theatre
Chapin Theatre Company
Columbia Children's Theatre
On Stage Productions
Ritz Theatre of Newberry
SC Shakespeare Company
Sumter Little Theatre
Village Square Theatre
|“Anatomy of a Hug” Is A Laugh-Filled Character Study of Wounded Survivors
Review by August Krickel
"You can live here until you die - but you are no longer my mother." That's a chilling line, laden with emotion, and it forms the crux of Kat Ramsburg's new play Anatomy of a Hug, running at Trustus Theatre as the winner of the organization's annual Playwrights' Festival. Through "compassionate release" - a legal process allowing for a convict with a terminal illness to be cared for by family members instead of the corrections system - a convicted murderer (Dewey Scott-Wiley) spends her final days with a daughter (Rebecca Herring) she hasn't seen in 26 years. Neither woman fully grasps her desperate need for connection with the other, but a wise social worker (Annette Grevious) senses that some closure or resolution is essential for both. What could have been a dreary and depressing plotline for a soap opera is instead a lively, touching, and - believe it or not - laugh-filled character study of wounded survivors, thanks to three-dimensional characterizations by the leads, and the nuanced writing of author Ramsburg.
As mother Sonia, Scott-Wiley is achingly vulnerable yet also endearingly goofy; she finds a sympathetic humanity within what could be a very unlikable character. Rebecca Herring is a complete delight as daughter Amelia, a dvd binge-watcher who has used television as a crutch, a painkiller, a companion, and a surrogate parent while growing up in foster care. Her timing is impeccable in moments of both comedy and tragedy, as when Sonia advises her daughter to try to live her life, and Amelia deadpans "I'll get right on that." I remain unsure if Amelia's job with an international children's charity, seeking sponsors for orphans in Africa, is a perfect metaphor and outlet for the character's familial dysfunction, or a bit too obvious and heavy-handed. Yet the fact that I'm still conflicted on that 24 hours later speaks to the complexity of the author's intent. Patrick Michael Kelly plays Ben, Amelia's co-worker and potential love interest, and he brings energy, commitment, and intensity to his portrayal. Yet however adept his characterization may be, I feel it's wrong for the role. Ben's blustery charm and smarmy aggressiveness are obviously covers for his own insecurity, but I feel his non-stop patter should be more sweet and impish than Kelly showed on opening night. Or to use an example from Friends - its theme song and those from many other classic series are used extensively throughout this production - Ben needs to be more of a gentle and lovable Chandler Bing figure, in order to convincingly bring Amelia out of her shell.
addiction to television is more than just a plot element, however; the
motif of the medium pervades the entire production,
with Baxter Engle's set resembling the soundstage for a sit-com. Bold
primary colors to the rear of the stage suggest a test pattern, while
flashing signs give cues for laughter, applause, and "awwwwwws."
Director Chad Henderson explains in program notes
that Amelia imagines herself as the protagonist in the story of her
life. It's certainly a design and staging concept that deserved to be
tried, but I fear it detracts from just how much of an impact pop
entertainment has had on the evolution of Amelia's personality.
With no available adult role models, television became her only source
to learn the way people are supposed to act, react, and behave in adult
life. It's significant that she is most passionate when defending the
Lost, explaining the characters' need to resolve assorted
personal issues in their lives... just as she unwittingly will do with
her mother. A passing reference to the unpleasantness of season 6 of
Buffy becomes vastly more meaningful and poignant if one knows
how that season chronicles the indestructible vampire slayer's inability
to cope with the responsibilities of being an adult following her
mother's death. The script is replete with purposeful
little gems like that, and I found myself hanging on every word of the
compelling and utterly natural dialogue.
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