4GIVENESS: In a Family Way-Four Plays About Strong Irrepressible Women

Written by award winning playwright Susan Jackson, 4GIVENESS: In a Family Way is a collection of four short plays.  Like an old fashioned southern soap opera, the characters in the plays are all related by blood or marriage and the main characters are strong, irrepressible women.  The common theme is forgiveness with settings from the Civil War era to the present.  

The program opened with Rockets Red Glare, Part I directed by Stephen Drewes and starring Diana Brown as Nandy and Susan Jackson as Peaches.  We meet them on a summer night at the Sonic Drive-In in the smallest town in Severinsville County, South Carolina.  Both ladies looked adorable in their wigs and had great playing energy as well as a flare for comedy.  The theme here is self forgiveness being the first step in forgiving others.  

The next play, Heathen takes place in 1864 in a South Carolina Plantation with background music of Swing Low Sweet Chariot.  Eric Nelson gave a strong portrayal of Dr. John Camaan watching General Sherman burning down the South while his slave Posey (Margo Sims) offers to fight off the devil to help her master.  What she doesn't know is that Lincoln freed the slaves and nobody told her. Then the play jumps to 1929 and a much stronger and wiser Posey confesses the truth just as Wall Street crumbles.  

In the third play of the program, For I Am Not Breaking, Part I directed by Ann Thomas, we meet two southern matrons, Annie (Adrienne Kru) and Marion (Susan Jackson) at Annie Camaan's gazebo, North Carolina, 2007.  Both women have opposing political views while sharing their weekly coffee.  Annie confesses that her daughter, Sarah is a lesbian.  Susan Jackson proved herself to be a wonderful comedic actress in her reaction to the news.  

The last play in the first half of the program was Rockets Red Glare, Part 1.5, the same summer night, 20 minutes later than the first play. Diana Brown continues as Nandy and we meet Salacious Peer (Eric Nelson), her beau who is a car dealer.  They have wonderful chemistry in this delightfully comic scene.  

The second half of the evening opens with Eye Tooth, directed by Ann Thomas starring Diana Brown as an eager new camper, Jenny, Adrienne Krug as Tess, an experienced camper and Susan Jackson as the Waitress.  This play takes place in a diner near Yosemite Park.   

This is followed by For I Am Not Breaking, Part II directed by Stephen Drewes and starring Susan Jackson as Marion Peallin.  This play takes place in Marion's home in North Carolina 3 weeks later. It is here that Marion receives a phone call where she can finally speak her mind and heart to her adulterous husband. Here Susan Jackson earned special applause.

The last play of the evening was Rockets Red Glare, Part II at the Sonic Drive-In one week later. Adrienne Krug stars as Crazy Lacy in a Lily Tomlin-like performance and Eric Nelson continues to play Salacious Peer, son of a judge.  Crazy Lacy informs us that southern accents have their origins in British pronunciation as she puts the make on Salacious.

The plays all add up to a wonderful evening's entertainment.  A single criticism would be the plays should be done in sequence rather than scattered throughout the program.

4GIVENESS: In a Family Way is being presented by the Southern Railroad Theatre Company at the Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa (at Harrison), San Francisco.  The plays will be performed Thursday-Saturday, June 23-25 at 8 p.m. For tickets and information, go to www.brownpapertickets.com or call 415-505-2151.