Bowie's sordid dark comedy a departure from lighter fare
Topics include sex, infidelity, revenge and unconditional love
Director John Nunemaker is the first to admit that "Sordid Lives," which opened at Bowie Community Theatre Jan. 21, isn't for everyone.
The black comedy, which includes sex, infidelity, revenge and other adult themes, is a departure from BCT's usual fare of light-hearted musicals and farces.
"It's a bit racy for BCT and that's OK," said Nunemaker of Crofton. "It's OK for people to not want to see it because of the mature language and mature themes. But for those who come, it has a really deep plot and has a message that will hit home for so many people."
"Sordid Lives," written by Del Shores, tells the story of a Texas family dealing with the death of its matriarch, Peggy, who died while having an affair with a neighbor. Peggy died tripping over her lover's wooden legs on her way to the bathroom in a motel room.
The play, like the 2000 movie of the same name, focuses on how the play's dozen main characters deal with Peggy's death, and how they grow to accept each other's quirks, differences and flaws.
For example, Debbie Samek, 56, of Bowie who plays Peggy's daughter, Latrelle, says her character spends the play struggling to accept not only the circumstances surrounding her mother's death, but the fact that her son is gay.
"My character knows her son is gay, but can't bring herself to accept and believe it," Samek said. "In the end, I accept him because of my love for him, because he's my only child, and I'm closer to him than to anybody else in the world."
Nunemaker said the balance between tear-jerking drama and black comedy first drew him to the play. He also liked it for its complicated plot, and thought Bowie Community Theatre audiences would enjoy the relatable, if wacky, characters.
"It's funny and it's dramatic at the same time," Nunemaker said. "It makes me laugh and cry."
Samek said a scene with Brother Boy, her transvestite brother, and a female therapist trying to "turn him straight" illustrates the kind of dark humor that defines "Sordid Lives."
"She tries to throw herself at him, thinking he might just need a woman,'" Samek said. "She takes off her top, reveals this red bra, and says, Look at these. What do you think?' He says, I'm just wondering where you got that bra.'"
Nunemaker said that while the characters are all colorful and outlandish, audience members will also find them highly relatable.
"Everyone will recognize someone they know in these characters," Nunemaker said. "Everyone knows someone who is passionate about something, in denial about something, or who is struggling with life in general."
Samek said the same applies to the play's themes while the situations may seen extreme, audience members will identify with the theme of unconditional love.
"This is a different kind of play, with perspectives and ideas that may be different for some audience members," Samek says. "I hope people will come away thinking that it was hilarious, but that when they get home, they think about whether they may be a little too closed-off when it comes to accepting people the way they are."
-When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 5
-Where: Bowie Playhouse, 16500 Whitemarsh Park Drive, Bowie
-Tickets: $18, $13 for seniors and students
-Box office: 301-805-0219 or www.bctheatre.com