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Daddy's Dyin', Who's Got the Will

More than 20 years after its Los Angeles debut, Del Shores’ comedy about a dysfunctional family in 1986 Texas is still good for laughs. Director Jeff Murray has here substituted the “white trash” clan with an African-American cast. Family patriarch Buford Turnover (Sy Richardson) has one foot in the grave, and his children can’t wait to get their hands on his will. Sara Lee (Regan Carrington) is a luckless-in-love spinster, who dutifully tends to the old man. Her sister Lurlene (Michele Harrell) is a religious zealot, while Evalita (Taji Coleman), a trampy six-time divorcée, shows up with a pot-smoking, longhaired “hippie” (Matt Skaja). Orville (Hardia Madden) is the sole male heir, with a ton of emotional baggage, who constantly berates his overweight wife (Pam Trotter). Then there’s the spirited elder Mama Willis (Baadja-Lynne), whose sharp tongue and iron will keep the brood in line. For most of the evening, it’s funny watching this caustic mix of vipers playing head games and sniping at each other. Shores’ dialogue is blisteringly funny, but sometimes these qualities don’t emerge forcefully enough under Murray’s understated direction. The production is double-cast. Theatre/Theater, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through Jan. 24. (323) 954-9795.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 & 8 p.m. Starts: Nov. 20. Continues through Jan. 24, 2008

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