LIBERTY — While the idea of planning a funeral doesn’t seem like it would elicit jokes, in the hands of playwright Del Shores, who also pinned “Daddy’s Dyin’ (Who’s Got the Will?),” “Sordid Lives” offers laughter at the chaos of family.
Corbin Theatre is staging the comedy this weekend and next under the direction of Greg Smith.
“This might be the first time for the show in the Kansas City area,” he said.
Smith said the set-up for the show is about a woman named Peggy Ingram, a widow, who is having an affair with a married man in their small Texas town. She trips over his wooden legs on her way to the restroom, hits her head on the sink and passes away. The woman’s family must deal with their own demons while preparing for what could be an embarrassing funeral.
“It’s 1969, right after the Vietnam War so the younger lover G.W. Nethercott lost his legs in the war,” Smith explained. “The play then centers on Peggy’s funeral and the revelations that come along with bringing people together.”
While the gallows humor erupts, Smith promises that the audience will also find a deeper meaning to the play.
“There’s forgiveness, acceptance and an affirmation of children,” he said. “There’s a child who is realizing who he really is and his mother is coming to an understanding.”
Smith, who has been on the Corbin stage before, said he is thrilled with more than half the cast being newcomers to Corbin.
“In the current climate, this is the sort of show that encourages people to come out and laugh,” he said. “It’s a good comedy and people will laugh. However, no one under 15 is going to be allowed in. There’s some strong language.”
Laura LaCour plays Latrell, the oldest daughter of the deceased widow. This is her first time at Corbin.
“Latrell has many of the first child tendencies,” she said. “She very much wants the recognition and also to be held in high esteem. She’s also working to understand and accept her son.”
Initially, LaCour was not sure about the play, but once the actors started rehearsal, she saw the life breathed into the words.
“I believe people will cry and laugh when they see this show,” she said.
Two other newcomers play a family friend and the younger sister of the deceased. Mitchell Flottman plays Odell Owens, the brother of love interest for Peggy’s younger daughter, LaVonda, played by Colonsay Selby.
“I taught in Texas for a time so I actually based my character on someone I know,” Selby said. “I definitely don’t want my character to be one-dimensional. Lavonda is the quintessential youngest child and she flaunts that she has been outside of this tiny Texas town. Two older siblings paved the way for her, but I believe they care deeply for each other.”
Flottman said his character is a bit of the town simpleton and class clown.
“He also cares about what people think of him,” Flottman said. “There are moments in this play where you wonder if it’s OK to laugh.”
Selby said people will though, and wonder if others will join it to as it’s a dark comedy.
Both are looking forward to the intimate stage experience at the Corbin.
“We will get to see the audiences’ reactions, for sure,” Selby said.