Get ready to be transported back to 1938, into the world of Burton and Ruthie (lovingly played by Mark Henry and Katherine Henry), a father and daughter who run a general store in Shallowford, NC., where you can just settle in, smell the coffee and are made to feel down right at home. It is a simpler time, not everyone even has a radio yet, so when
Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio story hits the airwaves, the townsfolk react to the threat of “Martian” invasion with guns and all out drama! The thought of the end of the world also brings about new perspectives for many, and new possibilities. Shallowford’s characters are superbly rendered by a talented cast. Relationships are well defined and characters well developed, no folksy caricatures, and the dialect amazingly even. The pacing of the show is relative to the play’s time period and small town atmosphere, but chock full of comedic gags which entertain, eliciting much laughter from the audience. Many fun lines are deployed with aplomb, such as Clunette’s (high energy acting by Steve Zanine) declining Burton’s homemade stew with “Gives me the burps, Burton” or Mr. Roy’s (dashingly done by Walter Bender) description of Clunette as “Jittery as a dog on an anthill”. Rurals Doodad (hilariously portrayed by Noah Baliles) and his father Newsome (rendered with a twinkle in the eye by Bruce Crotzer) are well paired, adding another layer to the town mix, plus choir master Fred (well executed by Rob Patey) who does surprise. Amidst the humor and chaos is a coming of age for Ruthie, who is being courted by football bruiser Dewey (handsomely played by Seth Baliles), but discovers Lonny, a science fiction fan, although she has known him since childhood. Lonny (marvelous acting by Scott McMasters) has imagination, and possibly a future outside of Shallowford, which are very attractive to the endearing Ruthie, who has dreams and ambitions beyond her father’s general store.
The set (Patrick Gallagher and Caris Baliles), which remains the general store, is gloriously detailed down to the cigars, pretzel sticks, coke bottles, pot belly stove, guns, barrels, fishing rods and more, and well utilized as far as character movement and sense of place, though the clock seemed a bit problematic, and all cues on target. The costumes (Emma Strowger and Cathy Zeller) are “fitting” and lend credence to the sense of time and place.
Kudos to Director Patrick Gallagher, cast and crew for the attention to detail and expressiveness that bring to life THE BATTLE OF SHALLOWFORD, a delightfully refreshing play written by Ed Simpson.
THE BATTLE OF SHALLOWFORD
by Ed Simpson
Directed by Patrick Gallagher
June 1 – 17, 2012
795 Ridge Road
Telford, PA 18969