The Touring Theatre of NC brings its anti-love letter to the Crown in Greensboro. (Photo: Kathy Dolly High)
by Joanna Rutter
If you’ve still got a sickly-sweet Valentine taste in your mouth, your palate cleanser for whatever Nicholas Sparks movie you watched last weekend can be “Over the Edge” by the Touring Theatre of North Carolina, showing Friday and Saturday at the Crown at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro.
Four short stories by Southern authors such as Quinn Dalton and Michael Parker — both from Greensboro — have been interpreted for the stage by actors in the company. Each of the scenes are honest, sinister and funny in turns, centering around a main theme of the ugly underbelly of what it actually means to love someone.
In a surreal excerpt from “The Golden Age of Heartbreak”, John Kernodle parsed Parker’s prose in an urgent, preacher-like drawl at the Saturday night performance, sharing his tale of heartbreak and loneliness with an everyman’s sense of melancholy humor. At times his lines were delivered precisely to extreme comedic effect, and sometimes they were a bit hard to follow, as was the storyline, which featured Stephen Gee as some sort of snarky and ominous apparition hounding Kernodle’s character.
Equally creative in concept and delivery was Charetta Shaw’s treatise against Miles Davis, railing against the jazz musician for his self-confessed violence toward women in a crescendo of anger: “How can they hit us and still be our heroes?” Her electric physicality kept the repetitive script from becoming stale.
Camilla Millican, in contrast with Shaw’s impassioned cries, coolly applied makeup seated at a vanity during her entire portion of “Graceland” by Quinn Dalton. As the title suggests, a visit to Memphis goes terribly awry when the anger-prone protagonist encounters her husband’s ex-boss and decides to take care of some business. Millican’s commitment was unwavering, casually applying lip gloss while describing her construction of a fertilizer bomb.
The most moving performance of the night was Kay Thomas’s, in her self-directed take on Pamela Duncan’s “Big Beautiful.” She opened the show standing under a solitary spotlight, wearing wedding attire, frantically narrating each doubt and anxiety going through her character’s mind in a creative take on the second-thoughts-at-the-altar trope.
Her scene is a light-handed meditation on body image and the concept of “settling” among women of a certain age, at one point conspiratorially telling the audience, “The difference between an old maid and a spinster, is an old maid ain’t never been married, and a spinster ain’t never been married, not never!”
As she ran off the stage into the darkness, though, her ending seemed anything but tragic.
See “Over the Edge” in the Crown at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. For tickets, visit carolinatheatre.com or call 336.333.2605.