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Southern Comforts, a Parlor Play, at Primary Stages
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Southern Comforts, a Parlor Play, at Primary Stages

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Southern Comforts
A New Play
By Kathleen Clark

Primary Stages
59 East 59th Street

Casey Childs: Exec. Producer
Andrew Leynse: Artistic Director
Elliot Fox, Managing Director

Penny Fuller as Amanda
Larry Keith as Gus

Director: Judith Ivey
Set Design: Thomas Lynch
Costume Design: Joseph G. Aulisi
Lighting Design: Brian Nason
Sound Design: T. Richard Fitzgerald
Music: Paul Schwartz
Fight Director: B. H. Barry
Production Stage Manager: Misha Siegel-Rivers
Production Supervisor: PRF Productions
Casting: Stephanie Klapper Casting
Press: O&M – Origlio/Miramontez Co.
Director of Marketing: Louis Bavaro
Director of Development: Erica Raven
Associate Artistic Director: Michelle Bossy

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 28, 2006

(See a New Year’s Eve Party at 59E59 Theaters)

Kathleen Clark, playwright of Southern Comforts, who was brought up in Northern New Jersey in a family of Southern origins, notes, “When it comes to love, sometimes the hardest part is not finding someone, but learning how to live with that person once you do”. Her new play, Southern Comforts, about the discovery of two seventy-ish singles, a widow and widower, who meet purely by chance, follows their initial curiosity, probing questions, casual banter, before and after dinner encounters, first kiss, breakup, reunion, and so on. The chamber music at scene changes mirrors the action, and the action mirrors the music. That is, this “parlor play”, taking place in Gus’ (the widower’s) living room, in all kinds of weather and all kinds of re-furnishings, almost develops in the metaphor of a string duet, with meandering, mellow moments, as well as those “con brio”. In fact, the driving thunder/lightning that follows the chance encounter allows for a serendipitous serenade of baseball banter and quiet query.

Penny Fuller as Amanda, a petite, perky, grey-blonde church volunteer, visiting from Tennessee, is adorable, charming, self-possessed, and shrewd. Before she knows it, her Southern accent and fashionable figure are wearing down the tough, Northern hide of Larry Keith, as Gus, who suffered through a long, lonely marriage. The thought of sex, let alone a discussion of such, gives him hyperventilation. Yet, he develops dependence and desire, during this intermission-less play, and, when Amanda leaves, over an issue of marital burial plans (the actual wedding is an offstage, between scene occurrence), this stubborn, old man, who dreads travel and change, is seen with maps and keys, ready to pursue the love of his life. Like a chamber piece, there is a conclusion, and this retired stonemason crafts a surprise on wheels. There are plays that make one restless, and there are plays that draw one in. Ms. Clark’s Southern Comforts enjoys the latter description, as I felt like an observer on an offstage couch. The actors achieved that sense of intimacy and chemistry, both mutually and with their audience.

Check to find news of current and upcoming productions at Primary Stages.

Penny Fuller as Amanda co-stars with Larry Keith as Gus in the Primary Stages production of the new play "Southern Comforts" by Kathleen Clark. With direction by Judith Ivey, performances continue through November 4 at 59E59 Theaters.
Photo courtesy of James Leynse

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at