Del Shores Fashions Fabulous Fantasies of Mom & Singing Sisters
by Evelyn Arevalo
Domineering mother Ditty Blaylock (vibrant Christine Macomber) has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime. She will be honored on television for 50 years of Gospel song writing. There’s just one catch, her three daughters–The Blaylock Sisters–must reunite in old age to sing their famous hits. But, by now they hate each other, and have not talked in decades!
After Ditty glibly volunteers her three daughters, we find out they cannot stand to be in the same room together.
The world premiere of “This Side of Crazy,” written and directed by Del Shores, takes us into a fantastical, imaginative world. Born from a YouTube wormhole, Shores was inspired by a video of the Grammy winning singers, The Peasall Sisters. Shores has written a truly remarkable comedy for churchgoers and the God-Forsaken, alike.
The eldest daughter, stern Rachel (versatile Cheryl Smith), runs a Christian Vlog, and still has “carnal” relations with her comatose husband. Middle daughter, eccentric Abigail (haunting Alison Whismore) spent 25 years in the looney bin–after she put Rachel’s husband into a vegetative state. Baby sister, chill Bethany (charming Amy Meyers), named after a Biblical town, works as an atheist stripper. Bethany also happens to be a closeted lesbian.
In this outrageous family group, Ditty stands out like a shining star. Her colorful outfits capture our attention as she dons flowing blue, green, and orange silk dresses. Ditty Blaylock possesses all the traits you do NOT want in a Mom: She’s self-centered, egotistical and manipulative. For lack of a better word: Narcissistic.
Ditty runs the house like a typical overbearing mommy manager–much like Kris Jenner, the mom behind the Kardashian empire. Yet, it’s difficult not to find Ditty Blaylock endearing when she proclaims, “I’m not racist, I’m from the South.” Ditty is the reincarnation of all things ridiculous, lively, and hard-headed.
Del Shores entices us with humor that borders on crass, using shock to astound us. In a voyersitic opening scene, we watch Rachel having loud sex with her “vegatative” husband. Afterwards, she calmily readjusts his IV-bags and tucks him in, giving his stiff body a quick peck on the lips. It’s cringeworthy, yes—but we cannot look away or stop laughing!
After 25 years of total alienation, The Blaylock Sisters have many choice words for each other. Each sister copes with her current predicament in dramatic ways.Rachel takes to biblical verses and vlogging, Abigail chain-smokes years off her life, and takes pills to control her anger. Bethany just jogs endless circles around the neighborhood.
In many ways, all three women are trying to escape—their mom, their childhood, their fame. As Bethany mentions, “Sometimes I wonder what I am running from.”
We realize that they are running from the looming shadow of Momma Ditty’s expectations. So, join in the wild fun—it’s just “this side of crazy,” with wonderful comic performances at NCTC.
“This Side Of Crazy”—written & directed by Del Shores, at New Conservatory Theatre Center, through Sunday October 20, 2019. Info: nctcsf.org
Cast: Christine Macomber, Amy Meyer Cheryl Smith, and Alison Whismore.
Banner photo: Amy Meyers, Cheryl Smith, Alison Whismore, Christine Macomber.