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Flint Hill's 'Dearly Departed'

Cappies Review

<bt>Who ever knew funerals could be funny? In Flint Hill's recent production of "Dearly Departed," an energetic cast and crew brought life to David Bottrell and Jessie Jones' riotous comedy.

"Dearly Departed" opened with the abrupt death of Bud Turpin, the aging patriarch of the quirky and eccentric Turpin family. Various friends and relatives gathered for the bereavement, unleashing a comical chain of events.

As Raynelle, Bud's widow, Kathy Norris displayed an impressive subtlety and depth of character rarely found on the amateur stage. Her remarkably accurate portrayal of the older woman combined a poignant sweetness with dead-on comedic timing, adeptly carrying the entire family along through the plot's twists and turns.

Mary Pilger played the Bible-thumping Marguerite, Bud's sister, with hilarious enthusiasm. As Junior, Bud's ne'er-do-well son, Adam Clark handled difficult transitions from angry frustration to sweetness and timidity with commendable dexterity. Claire Holman provided hilarious physical movement and dynamic facial characterization.

Technical aspects were solid, anchored by an appropriately minimalist set, which allowed the audience to focus on the actors, and beautiful costuming (Corey Murphy), which highlighted each character's individuality.

"Dearly Departed" was hampered in the first act by languid pacing and was eclipsed by Act 2's quicker speed. A few of the characters slipped in and out of their Southern drawls.

It isn't just any school that can make a funeral hilarious, but Flint Hill pulled it off.