Raymond BrownPhil Stillwell
Annabel LeeJennie L. Hamilton
Ruth BrownJocelyn M. Klein
King Vaughnum IIIJim Payton
Clairice VaughnumC. Taylor
Bobby StackTimothy Olson

'LONELY STREET' proves poignant play

News Journal, January 23, 1992

By Susan Aronson

Family ties alternately split apart and join together the characters in Sandra Deer's poignant drama "So Long on Lonely Street," now playing at the Poway Performing Arts Company on Cynthia Lane in Poway.

The play is fast moving, with excellent writing that combines comedy with pain, juxtapositioning imaginary chickens with very real despair.

The action takes place in the South, at the family homestead of Big Jack, long deceased but not forgotten. The house is described, in turn, as a ramshackle farmhouse and a plantation. The death of 74-year-old Aunt Pearl precipitates a gathering of kinfolk who have been far away, either geographically or spiritually.

Raymond faces his demons, sharing the loneliness and broken dreams he sees in Ruth's poetry, despite his fame as a character on a New York soap opera approriately titled "All Our Yesterdays." He responds to real life stress with the stoicism as well as the drama of the professional actor.

At center stage is Annabel Lee (Jennie L. Hamilton, in her first role at PowPAC), an inhabitant of the home on Honeysuckle Hill from the days when she and Pearl were children together. Hamilton electrifies the audience with her dramatic interpretation of what she calls "The Many Faces of Anna." Is she part of the family or a black outsider in a white home? Is she crazy or one of the sanest ones? Is she the Rose of Sharon, daughter of King Solomon, and worthy of a book about her two selves, or is she just putting everybody on?

Another claimant to royalty is cousin King Vaughnum III (Jim Payton, with his usual flair), an oily opportunist who butters up which ever relative may be able to pave the way for his proposed shopping center, where "Christians can sell and dwell in the name of the Lord."

Cousin King has made what fortune he has in the taxi cab and fried chicken business. (However, because his favorite author is Rudyard Kipling, King can't be all bad!)

C. Taylor, as King's wife, Clairice, gives a good protrayal of a pregnant Southern belle. She solicitiously rubs her tummy while swooning over Chance Rodney, Raymond's television persona.

Bobby Stack (Timothy Olson, another newcomer in PowPAC) does well in his role of the country lawyer who hopes to become more than a friend to Ruth but is out of his element in dealing with Big Jack's family.

The casting is excellent, with makeup, costumes and accents contributing to the believability of the characters portrayed. One is really drawn into the long-ago and the here-and-now by the fine performances of brother and sister, Raymond and Ruth. The latter states that her blue jeans are older than the latest young lady pursuing her brother, a brave fact for a woman to admit.

Director Annette Huffman keeps the play moving along quickly, with dual monologues flowing in key scenes where song and dialogue overlap. The drama was produced by Nancy Green and stage managed by Paula Holder.

The sets, designed by Diana Smith, are also realistic, down to the lattice work on the porch and the stairs to the second floor. Props, by Dave Hibler, include a coffin in the living room.

"So Long on Lonely Street" contains some adult material but should not be offensive to most playgoers. It continues its run Jan. 24, 25, 26 and 31, and Feb. 1, 2, 7 and 8, with curtain at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and 7 p.m. Sundays. With tickets priced at (seniors and children ), the play is well worth the trip to 13634 Cynthia Lane. (Take Midland Road north from Poway Road and turn east on Cynthia). The opening night performance Jan. 17 played to an enthusiastic full house, so be sure to call soon. For more information and reservations, the number for the Poway Performing Arts Company is 679-8085.