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Shannon Bardwell: Second Samuel


Shannon Bardwell



"What did you think of the play?" Pamela Parker, the playwright asked  


I knew exactly what I thought of the play but I thought better of saying so.  


The Starkville Community Theatre is presenting, "Second Samuel," written by Pamela Parker.  


Unbeknownst to the Friday night's audience Ms. Parker herself was in attendance and offered a discussion session after the performance.  


The play's premise is, "All the town folk of 1940's Second Samuel, Georgia, are typical God- fearing, patriotic Americans. Miss Gertrude, described as 'the sweetest woman that ever drawed a breath,' has died, and the whole town gets wrapped up in giving her a beautiful funeral when a secret is revealed about Miss Gertrude that brings an immediate halt to plans..."  


Having attended the SCT plays for over 25 years and often seeing the very same people in scores of roles I'm dumbfounded at how each actor is a perfect fit for the very part in which they are cast. Lyle Tate, playing "B Flat," was completely believable as a sweet but slow of thought young man, known and loved by everybody in town, well almost everybody.  


Also believable were Gabe Smith-"Frisky," Marianne Ulmer- "Jimmy Deeanne," Kendrick Vivians- "U.S." Christopher Walrath- "Mansel," Heather Box-"Ruby," Charles Campbell- "Mr. Mozel," Kris Lee- "Doc," Terry Reese McDowell-"Marcela," Brad Moreland-"June Cline," and the quintessential Madeline Golden as "Omaha Nebraska."  


Boy, that's a slew of people for one Pattye Archer to direct.  


Before revealing Miss Gertrude's secret, the play was reminiscent of the rollicking humor of "Hee Haw," there were lots of laughs, physical humor and facial expressions. Gabe Smith should win a Tony award for facial expressions. I promise his face must be made of silly putty.  


Then in slapstick gone ballistic Miss Gertrude's secret is revealed and I can't tell you how uncomfortable I became as the aftermath unfolded. It was one of those moments when you sort of freeze and hope that you look okay on the outside because inside you're doing somersaults.  


You see, I started visualizing a mirror and while I watched the actors work out their own feelings, I could see myself at the same time, I could see my own upbringing, I could see my own deep-rooted prejudices on several levels and I was very uncomfortable.  


Then slowly as "B Flat," helped all of us work out who we are and as "U.S." quietly started singing a church hymn that I have heard my whole life, I knew that the little town of Second Samuel would be okay and that we would all be okay.  


And that's what I would tell Pamela Parker, "You showed me myself and it caused me anxiety and then you showed me the answer and it all was so very simple."  


The play continues through April 28. If there are any seats left- I suggest you grab one.  


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a writer, who lives in the Prairie. Her e-mail address is [email protected]


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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