The Savannah Disputation
Though it talks of religion, Evan Smith's comedy of substance is less concerned with ideology than with the loneliness and fear that drive people to defend dogma. Elderly siblings Mary (Anne Gee Byrd) and Margaret (Bonnie Bailey-Reed) share a home and their Catholic faith but little else. Mary is sharp-tongued and opinionated, Margaret docile, impressionable and easily unwound. When a fresh-faced Pentecostal proselytizer (Rebecca Mozo) comes knocking, Mary gleefully slams the door; Margaret, however, lets her in, unknowingly inviting a stormy dialogue about doctrine that lays bare the longings behind each disputant's self-fashioned façade. Director Cameron Watson has marshaled a crackerjack ensemble; any tilt toward stereotype in the writing is obscured by impeccably vivid performances. As the family priest drafted to champion the faith, Josh Clark first proves he can convey worlds without speaking a single line. Byrd is hilarious as the cantankerous Mary, and Bailey-Reed is pitch-perfectly endearing as her spooked-by-her-own-shadow sister. But it is Mozo, whose character blends sex, Southern courtesy and steely fundamentalism, who delivers the most illuminating performance. Smith's passages involving biblical scholarship are informative for those interested; those who aren't will be entertained anyway. Designer Stephen Gifford's detailed set anchors this polished production. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; Sat., 3 p.m.; through July 8. (818) 558-7000, colonytheatre.org.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Saturdays, 3 p.m. Starts: June 16. Continues through July 8, 2012
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