The Towne Players of Garner wraps up their 12th season with John Patrick’s The Curious Savage. In the Garner Historic Auditorium, Garner’s community theater gives a nice production that explores what it means to be content.
Although the 1980s costume pieces do not lend you to think so, The Curious Savage is set in a sanatorium in 1950. The play begins when a woman is sent to the sanatorium after her three step-children declare her mentally ill for wanting to put her millions into a memorial fund instead of directly into their hands. This play takes a while to warm up to but leaves the audience feeling thoughtful and even a little moved. Director Beth Honeycutt did a fine job in staging a play that could have become stagnant as it did not change settings during the course of the long three acts. The community ensemble was very well cast. Frances Stanley (Mrs. Savage) gave a breath of air to the stage with her entrance in Act I. Actor Maggie Barton (Fairy May) livened the stage with an endearing and humorous portrayal of a sanatorium resident. Stuart Jonap (Jeff), whose character was also a resident, gave an honest performance that exceeded the bar set by the cast as a whole. The award for the most committed actor in his or her part goes to Leslie Dahlin (Mrs. Paddy), whose consistency in character, though hers was not a large role, was continually pleasing. The cast worked very well together and brought out each other’s strengths. The three siblings who institutionalized their step-mother complimented each other nicely with believable sibling behavior.
While the production was attractive, there are a few technical aspects that could have been improved. A couple of dropped lines were able to be covered. The older members of the cast appeared to begin getting tired as the show went on; actors who had begun strongly slowly declined. The show dragged in a few places, which made it hard to sit through the two hour show. Conventional acting techniques were not fully observed. There was a lot of talking upstage, some movement without apparent intent, and some reliance on placing five people all in a line (which should only occur if they are about to do the can-can).
That said, this community theater does not claim to be made of professionals. This is a theater group designed by and for the Garner community, and these people produce work for the joy of bringing art to the community.
I am very proud to call myself a Garner resident. The Towne Players produced a charming show that left me feeling warmth in my heart. If you would like to see a community supporting each other, stop by a Towne Players show. You will find an auditorium that is regularly packed with its supporters.
Best of luck with your 13th season, Players!
*We are pleased to welcome Julie-Kate Cooper to the pages of CVNC. She is part of our ongoing internship program at Meredith College.