by Jody Key – Managing Editor
Once and a while a slice-of-life story comes along that touches the heartstrings and transcends the every day situations that make up the story itself. See Rock City, a play by Arlene Hutton and recipient of the MacLean Foundation’s “In the Spirit of America” Award, is one of those stories. Set in Kentucky during World War II, the second of a trilogy of plays explores relationships between mothers and their children, neighbors, and husbands and wives, all from the comings and goings of a southern front porch.
Perhaps the charm of this play stems from the performances of the four actors in Theater Buford’s production. This play is carried by only 4 cast members: May (Amelia Fischer) and Raliegh (Chris Harding) are newly married and living with May’s parents, May’s mother Mrs. Gill (Lala Cochran) and her father, whom Mrs. Gill talks about as spending all his time in the shed behind the house, but never actually materializes as a character on stage. Mrs. Brummett (Gay Hammond), Raliegh’s cantankerous mother comes over to visit on occasion, much to the chagrin of everyone.
Every performance was brilliant and is even more enjoyable knowing that Gay Hammond and Amelia Fischer while playing mother and daughter-in-law in the performance are actually mother and daughter in real life. Gay has been an icon in the North Georgia Theater community as a resident actor, director, and playwright with the Gainesville Theatre Alliance and associate professor at Brenau University. Students who have been directed by her are delighted to see her on stage. Her sense of comedic timing as Mrs. Brummett is impeccable, and she takes an unlikable character and turns her into someone one can feel compassion for.
Amelia (May) and Chris (Raleigh) make a convincing couple with wonderful chemistry. The story centers around these two young people finding their way in an uncertain world, both as WWII rages and also during the adjustment the end of the war brings. Both Amelia and Chris have impressive professional resumes, and we’re blessed to have them in our community to deliver such superb performances.
Lala Cochran as the sweet and sensible Mrs. Gill is the yin to Mrs. Brummett’s yang, and has an innate ability as a counselor, good listener, and patient mother and wife. Her portrayal was spot on. Lala has also been working extensively in theater in the Atlanta area and is the consummate professional.
Theater Buford is under the creative direction of Julie Skrzypek and Justin Walker, and See Rock City is the first of a busy season for this fairly new theater. We wish Julie and Justin the best of luck as they take Theater Buford to new heights.
See Rock City runs through August 26th at the Sylvia Beard Theatre. For tickets, call the box office at 770-904-2740 or order online at www.bufordcommunitycenter.com.
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