REVIEW: Clemson Little Theatre Gets High-Grade Laughs in Low-Brow ‘Doublewide, Texas’

Paula Doolittle and Shannon Faulkner in “Doublewide, Texas.”

BY SANDY STAGGS
DRAMA CRITIC

Clemson Little Theatre has yet another hit in its midst with the desert oasis comedy “Doublewide, Texas” written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and  Jamie Wooten, the same team that conceived the warm , sentimental chick-dramedy “The Dixie Swim Club” and dozens of other plays.

And any “Dixie Swim Club” fans that are expecting an interesting plot, witty dialogue and characters that you care about, will be sorely disappointed.  The storyline in “Doublewide, Texas” is basically any  episode of “The Dukes of Hazzard” with a shady land deal, a trailer park with only four doublewides, a corrupt small-potato politician, and enough low-brow humor for a whole  season of “Hee-Haw.”

That said, get your tickets fast, because the sold-out audience lapped it up Saturday night as director Jimmy O. Burdette and his cast turned this inane, ludicrous, lowest-denominator trailer park romp into a hilarious evening where anything can happen.

Veteran showstopper Paula Doolittle keeps the proceedings fresh and unpredictable as only she can. Part-Truvy from “Steel Magnolias” and part-Florence Jean Castleberry from “Alice,” Doolittle is big-hearted, big-mouthed Georgia Dean Rudd (a huge blonde wig and always dressed in pink with leopard print leggings) who is struggling to keep her diner and finances afloat  but still finds the time to take in a stray, including pregnant teenager Lark (Lydia Andrew), who thinks of a new name for her baby in every scene through the play.

Then there’s Shannon Faulkner who gloriously opens the show with  a terrific funny monologue as Big Ethel Satterwhite, the prison dietician who lectures us about healthily food choices (a cabbage or a cookie?) before she devours the tasty treat with no regrets, and a twist on that Southern adage, “The higher the cholesterol , the closer to God.”

Thomas Pounds is Haywood Sloggett, the curmudgeon next door to the trailer park and John Frady is the local corrupt politician, who literally gets caught with his pants down by his girlfriend (Suzanne Rushing).

Jenifer Sweat get the pleasure of playing the “straight man” as Joveeta Crumpler, the only normal person in her family, which includes Matthew Hartman as Baby Crumpler, who gets huge laughs in a running gag as he prepares for a womanless beauty pageant . And he gradually astutely  learns to traverse the stag in those high heels.

But the most unexpected surprise in this show is Sarah Duvall as the feisty mother, Caprice Crumpler. Imogene Coca and Carol Burnett all rolled into one, Duvall unquestionably steals this show with every single entrance as her character attempts to break into show biz by auditioning for a local mattress store commercial. She flat out killed it and brought the house down. From her ill-applied lipstick, her fake drooping bosoms, her hideously clashing costumes, Duvall gave the funniest single performance I have seen all season at any theatre. Imagine a 60-something Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” (with beer in her basket instead of Toto) or a 60-simething Marilyn Monroe in that infamous white dress form “The Seven Year Itch” ready to reveal what’s underneath.

Burdette, whose next show will be “Lost Highway: The Hank Williams Story” at the Abbeville Opera House in April 2019, also designed the festive trailer park set of corrugated metal and all-things the celebrate the Lone Star state: cacti, boots, wagon wheels and the desert.

The sparkling costumes are by Pat Shull and the Stage Managers are Teresa Glover and Ashley Taylor.

And don’t miss the pre –show Honky Tonk before very show provided by cast member John Grady on his guitar.

Doublewide, Texas” continues Feb. 1-3, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at Clemson Little Theatre-Pendleton Playhouse, 214 S Mechanic St. in Pendleton. For tickets, visit http://www.clemsonlittletheatre.com or call (864) 646-8100.

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