Life-affirming Comedy

Life-affirming Comedy

Reston Community Players presents "The Savannah Disputation."

Barbara Wilson and Mark Yeager in rehearsal for “The Savannah Disputation.”

Barbara Wilson and Mark Yeager in rehearsal for “The Savannah Disputation.” Photo by David Siegel.

The Reston Community Players will soon bring the D.C. area community theater premiere of "The Savannah Disputation" to audiences. The play was written by emerging award winning playwright Evan Smith.

Where and When

Reston Community Players present "The Savannah Disputation" at CenterStage Theater, Reston Community Center, 2310 Colts Neck Road, Hunters Woods Shopping Center, Reston. Performances: Jan. 18-Feb. 2, 2013. Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m., Sunday matinee, Jan. 27, 2:30 p.m. Tickets: $17-$20. Call 703-476-4500 or visit www.restonplayers.o….

"The Savannah Disputation" is "a funny play about serious topics," said director and veteran actor, Bernie Cohen (Falls Church). "I loved it when I read it and wanted to direct it." He described the play as one Neil Simon might have written in his later works; when thought-provoking issues were well- surrounded by humor permitting an audience to deeply mull over what was before them.

The storyline is about grappling with life's many challenges. Four characters provide rapid-fire opinions on profound matters, with humor generously sprinkled throughout. They often challenge one another's religious orthodoxies. Over time, what were once strongly held, unshakeable beliefs seemingly begin to shake apart for some, as others plow forward aggressively.


Lori Brooks (standing) and Barbara Wilson in rehearsal for “The Savannah Disputation.”

There is the spinster, the older Margaret (Gayle Grimes), brought up in the Catholic faith who courteously admits an energetic, younger Evangelical missionary Melissa (Lori Brooks) into her home. Added to the brewing mix is her more prickly sister Mary (Barbara Wilson), who is displeased with the views espoused by Brooks. And finally enters the usually mild-mannered local parish priest, Father Murphy (Mark Yeager) who finds himself in the midst of much verbal sparring over their beliefs.

For Barbara Wilson, "all the characters are so well written, that they come alive as very real people. They are not offensive in their beliefs. They are just looking for answers."

Veteran actor Gayle Grimes described her character as one looking for the tranquility of deeply held faith. She is "not complex, just wants simple, understandable answers to her many questions about life and faith." Grimes added that her character "just gets so off-kilter when told her beliefs are wrong." She just wants things resolved.

Lori Brooks is new to the Reston Community Players, but not to local community theater stages. She noted that the "characters have wickedly different views of faith. They are recognizable real people. They are not bad people at all, they just get completely wrapped up in their own perspectives of things."

For the Reston Community Players "The Savannah Disputation" is a hilarious evening with the rhythm of a sitcom as the characters journey along to "discover the perils of using religion to bend others to your will."