The latest theatrical comedy from satirist Thomas J. Perez and his South of the Salt Line (SOSL) troupe played to a light house on opening night and one look at the calendar made it obvious why. Greek Fest and the usual maximum cultural density of October in Mobile can make life frustrating, but those who stayed away robbed themselves.
“Ambushed?” Try “whomped” over the head with hilarity.
This is easily the funniest of the three South of the Salt Line productions since its 2013 revival. The pacing is better and the writing superior. Chalk it up to subject matter as there is no aspect of the ridiculousness of Alabama politics not skewered.
The cast was strong with several performances that stood out against the madcap plot. Tania Radoslovich did a wonderful job employing an understated natural quality that anchored the panoply of eccentrics. She appeared to listen well and let the character flow through her.
Kim McKenzie was one of the highlights of the troupe’s previous production, “When the Saints Go Marching In at Cockroach Hall,” being topped only by the brilliance of Charlie Kelly. She threw the same kind of panache into her current role and had some of the night’s biggest laughs, which is saying something in this play.
Steve Evans was a bundle of energy when he stormed the stage and didn’t let up throughout. His relentless portrayal of an Opelika mayor filled the outsized shoes we expect of Alabama politicos.
You can’t have any appearance of drag queens without a dab of marmalade, of the “lady” variety, that is. Chris Hill and Brendan Cooke waste little fierceness in trotting out their stage moves, especially when McKenzie joins them.
Speaking of said “queens,” one of the night’s most sublime and subliminal moments was when they exchanged looks of revulsion at a pair of plain women’s shoes they find beside a couch. We would expect no less.
All the characters drew laughs, some stretched out so long the cast had to noticeably wait to move forward. That’s what you label “a good problem.”
“Ambushed” continues through the next two weekends, Oct. 23-26 and Oct. 30 – Nov. 2. It’s a difficult time of the year to stage a play but the timing leading up to our statewide elections on Nov. 4 was integral.
If you love to laugh at our own flaws and peccadilloes, you don’t want to miss this. Maybe the mirth can tithe you over when you enter the voting booth to make a less palatable choice in a couple of weeks.