Tender Mercies Southern Style In 4 Mercy: Friendly Fires

Pictured (l-r): Diana Brown as Rhonda, Susan Jackson as Beth and Adrienne Krug as Sylviein Adopt a Highway from 4 MERCY: Friendly Fires by Susan Jackson.  Photo by Eric Nelson

After their sold out run of 4 Giveness In A Family Way, the Southern Railroad Theatre Company returns to the Royce Gallery to present Award-Winning Playwright Susan Jackson's latest edition to her southern universe, four new plays united under the theme of Mercy.  This collection of plays includes the continuing adventures of Nandy, Peaches, Salacious and Crazy Lacy and the other citizens of small town Beaver Dam and elsewhere to examine the bonds of love, friendship and marriage.  

This program opened with country-western music which introduced Rockets Red Glare Part 2.5 directed by Stephen Drewes.  We are in Crazy Lacy's backyard in Severinsville County, South Carolina.  Crazy Lacy (Adrienne Krug), Nandy Hollister (Diana Brown), Peaches Nasterson (Susan Jackson) and Salacious (Eric Nelson) come together in a "come to Jesus mercy meeting" to determine just who ends up with whom.  A fight breaks out between Lacy and Nandy for the hand of Salacious and Peaches comes to the rescue.  All is performed in the spirit of fun.  

The next play Rockets Red Glare Part 2.75 was directed by Diana Brown. This play takes place in Salacious's car the next day.  Salacious is wearing a red, white and blue tie. In this play, Eric Nelson gives a strong performance as Salacious, who is the son of a judge.

In the third play of the program, Adopt a Highway, directed by Ann Thomas, three friends are traveling three hours in a car driven by Rhonda (Diana Brown).  To pass the time, Beth (Susan Jackson) suggest they play a game called "Let's Tell Three Secrets." The other passenger is Sylvie (Adrienne Krug).  All are dressed in black to go to a funeral. Each woman gets a chance to shine in a special monologue. This play has a surprise ending. An intermission follows these three plays.

The second half of the program opens with "In Situ," described as a "tumor that is confined to its site of origin." Directed by Ann Thomas, the play takes place in Beth's backyard in North Carolina.  Beth is played by Susan Jackson. Her best friend and college roommate is Henri (Diana Brown).  Both women give excellent performances in this touching drama of two friends who each have a different perspective on terminal illness.  Even though this is a serious play, it has a lot of humor in the first half.  

This is followed by For I Am Not Breaking, Part 2, directed by Stephen Drewes and starring Susan Jackson as Marion Peallin.  The play takes place in Marion's home in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Here, socialite Marion Peallin, against her lawyer's advice, writes a letter to her soon-to-be bigamist husband asking him to let her keep the family residence.  Susan Jackson gives a very moving performance as Marion.  

The final play, Rockets Red Glare Part 3.0 takes place in a forest in Severinsville County one week later. This play was directed by Susan Jackson. Here Nandy (Diana Brown) and Salacious (Eric Nelson), former lovers, face off, arguing over which opponent, Peaches or Salacious, deserves to be Mayor of Beaver Dam. This play was a lot of fun.  These plays all add up to a wonderful evening's entertainment.

4 Mercy: Friendly Fires is presented by the Southern Railroad Theatre Company at the Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa (at Harrison) in San Francisco.  The plays are performed Thursday-Saturday, September 15-17 at 8 p.m. For tickets and information, go to www.brownpapertickets.com or call 415-505-2151.

Flora Lynn Isaacson