For her directorial debut, Jane C. McNulty has chosen to present William Mastrosimone's “Shivaree” at the Shadowbox Theatre on St. Claude Avenue.
A Four Humours Theater production, this quirky tale of love between Chandler, a hemophiliac, played by Mason Joiner and a fast-talking Southern belly dancer with a zest for life named Shivaree, played to perfection by Ashton Akridge, is definitely worth seeing.
Chandler, who is an astronomer, is smothered by his overprotective mother Mary Ann, played by Cammie West. Working as a taxi driver, she complains about her life, spent making money - sometimes ripping off tourists - in order to take care of the two of them. She is a strong, dominating influence, finding a way to cope after her husband (Chandler's father) has run off.
Chandler is no longer a frail child and understands his condition will always impair his ability to lead an ordinary life. But he can deal with that. As a grown man, however, he has needs that his mother cannot satisfy. A student of science, he speaks in complicated sentences worthy of a scholar, but when he meets the flibbertigibbet that is Shivaree and begins to admire her scantilly-clad and heavenly body, mom says no!
How Chandler comes to terms with his wants and desires and deals with his dominating mother as he pursues Shivaree is at the heart of the work. One might favorably describe "Shivaree" as "The Big Bang Theory" meets "I Dream of Jeannie"..."with the Light Brown Hair."
Mastrosimone's largely comic piece deals with a number of issues: Chandler's sexual yearning and need for independence; Shivaree's free-spirited nature and overt sexuality; and Mary Ann's martyr complex and repression of her son.
Also on stage are a fast talking scam artist Scagg, played by Blake Buchert and a prostitute named Laura, whom he lines up for Chandler played by Elizabeth Hollingsworth. Neither of these are especially redeeming characters, but speak of the depths Chandler is willing to sink in order to satisfy his desire for companionship.
McNulty's casting is brilliant. Joiner and Akridge performances are the arc of this two-act play and audience members can't help rooting for these star-crossed lovers to succeed despite all they have to overcome.
"Shivaree"finishes its run at the Shadowbox Theatre, 2400 St. Claude Avenue this Friday and Saturday nights at 9:00 p.m. The Sunday matinee is at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are available at 504-298-8676 and a $2.00 discount is available for attendees at the other Shadowbox presentation of "What Do You Say to a Shadow?"