Sordid Lives

Rated 4.0

There’s a theatrical rule-of-thumb that says comedies should end with a wedding, while tragedies end with a funeral. In a critically useful “queering” of that standard, Sordid Lives upends the order to give us a Southern-fried carnival of a funeral in which homophobes get their comeuppance and love conquers all, right in front of the corpse. Yep, there’s a good reason for Lambda Players’ extension of the run for this production: full houses rocking the rafters with laughter. In the best tradition of comedy, the audience also can expect to wipe away a tear or two.

Sandra McCord, Cynthia Drumbor and Angela R. Thompson (the three best elements of Lambda’s spotty production of Vanities earlier this season) cut loose as working-class women of a certain age—though Thompson’s tight-lipped and even tighter-assed Latrelle is mostly a comic foil for the others. They’re joined by an outstanding Susan Soesbe as LaVonda. Noemi Rios and Russ Marsh are scene-stealers in small roles (as Juanita and Odell, respectively), and Curtis Brown brings a gentlemanly touch to his role as reformed gay-basher Wardell. Bethany Hidden, in fine voice as Bitsy Mae Harling, serves as a twangy chorus—and provides one helluva rendition of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.” And Steve Thompson plays the sensitive Ty, the family’s second-generation gay man, with gentle good humor.

But the kudos go to Kevin Leonard as Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram, a Tammy Wynette-obsessed transvestite homosexual, and Raylynn Saunders as the therapist who wants to cure him. Who’s the real drag queen here? It’s fun trying to figure it out.