Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Things To Do

June 7, 2012

See Rock City at Cumberland County Playhouse

CROSSVILLE — See Rock City transports the audience in the Adventure Theater to rural Kentucky in 1944. Lindy and Greg Pendzick play May Gill and Raleigh Brummett, a bride and groom just back from their honeymoon trip. Did they indeed “See Rock City”? They did bring a birdhouse with the familiar words as a gift for Raleigh’s mama, played by Carol Irvin. In this four-person show, Patty Payne plays May’s mother Mrs. Gill.  

Do you know the song “Fire on the Mountain”? In this drama, the song is left out but there is lightning in the air. The sparks and the fireworks are in the relationship between the newlyweds. What is the meaning of marriage? Is marriage about one taking care of the other? What is the impact of a hidden handicap on both their lives? Does one’s job/professional position determine one’s worth? How do both deal with unemployment, real or apparent? How is one’s life affected when one’s mother feels he is a loser? Does love sometimes mean letting go? These are some issues raised during six scenes as the play moves from June 1944 through August 1945.

Carol Irvin is convincing as Mrs. Brummet, mother of Raleigh. She is aged in both appearance and gait. Her housedress and her hat seek to give assurance of the power and control her life lacks. She is bitter, angry, and vindictive. If her son does not work in the field or with his hands, he is worthless.   

Patty Payne plays Mrs. Gill, the caring and understanding mother of May. She projects a woman torn by concern for her son who has been sent on another tour of duty. She loves May and Raleigh, willingly shares her home with them. She is even tolerant of May’s ongoing lack of cooking skills without blaming herself or May. Meanwhile, Mr. Gill is in his workshop listening to war news on the radio. We never meet him. Mrs. Gill remembers with tenderness to the days her father was a tobacco grower; the smell is precious to her, yet the use of tobacco by her husband or Raleigh is not to be tolerated. Such is the dichotomy with which she lives.

Greg and Lindy Pendzick exhibit unexpected anger and tenderness toward one another in their roles as Raleigh and May. Nothing in life is quite what they had planned.

Beginning with a missed train, the unexpected problems mount up. His stories are not sold. Returning servicemen receive priority in professional positions and in educational opportunities. They lack any privacy as a couple. His demanding mother adds pressure to the fragile bonds of a new marriage. Greg is hilarious as he mimics the builder of the birdhouse. Lindy alternates between professional dedication that shuts him out and her love that seeks to understand how to trust her husband and even let him go.

Written by Arlene Hutton, this drama is a piece of the New Harmony Project from 2004. The unique mission of this ongoing group is to positively impact the culture by seeking out and nurturing writers whose work in theater and film offers hope and celebrates the dignity of the human spirit. We are grateful for the opportunity to see Ms. Hutton’s work. 

Tom Angland directs what he rightly calls “a gem of a play.” Angland was part of the Playhouse family from 1999 to 2004. He has since earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in theatre and spent three years in the resident acting company of the Barter Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. Now living in Nashville, he teaches college level courses in theater. His notes of introduction to the play explain: “See Rock City presents hardship and humor, loathing and love, cruelty and compassion, selfishness and sacrifice, all in the same paradoxical, gorgeous, and baffling balance that life delivers them.”

You are invited to be a part of the hope that emerges. For those who like drama, here is a fine play. Do call for your tickets soon.     

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