Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Catch a Tuna Christmas

When I heard that I was going to see a play called "A Tuna Christmas," I jokingly asked if it was about "The Office's" Jim Halpert.  Once ensconced in the second row of Cape May's Robert Shackleton Playhouse, I learned that it was not.

Still, the homespun satire that unfolded wasn't entirely different from the NBC sitcom in its not-always-gentle exposure of small-town folks' quirks and foibles.  Tuna, as it turns out, referred to a fictional small town in Texas - the third smallest town, to be exact.  Its tirelessly colorful cast of two dozen (mostly) narrow-minded local yokels was played to perfection by just two actors, Jody Cook and Turner Crumbley, no small feat considering that the mountain lion's share of the characters were women.  Cook and Crumbley mastered lightning-fast costume changes and personas that turned on a dime to deliver characters that we've all encountered, if not at the Tuna Tasty Creme, then at the nearest Walmart or church social.  Straddling the middle ground between cringe-worthy and sympathetic, they offered an introspective view into the hearts and minds of everyday people.  To be sure, "Tuna" explored censorship, prejudice, and heartbreak, so peppered with the spice of local radio, community theater, Christmas decorating wars, ne'er-do-well husbands, on-the-loose critters, and unfulfilled dreams that flavor the most trenchant of country chronicles.  

This isn't your grandmother's yuletide tale.  Ribald and real, "Tuna" is a slice of life that makes you laugh even through its sadness.  Having expected two hours of ho-hum holiday entertainment, I was engrossed.  Whether you be city folk or a cowpoke, you'll want to give "Tuna" a try.

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