Grab a drink and settle in — you’re about to make some new friends.
“The Savannah Sipping Society,” the first show held in the Rep’s newly purchased theater (don’t worry, it’s the same building they’ve performed in since 2007) is a refreshing treat.
The two-hour show only features a handful of middle-aged characters, each one down-and-out. The ostensible protagonist is uptight career woman Randa (Lisa Shields) who’s just been canned from her architecture job in favor of a much younger man. She’s joined by bubbly and well-meaning Dot (Christine Boos), widowed just after retirement, and the brazen, recently divorced Marlafaye (Taresa Tweeten). Aspiring life coach Jinx (Karen Masbruch) rounds out the group. She wants to prove that the three others can move onward and upward after their roadblocks.
Little binds these women together except loneliness and a hatred of hot yoga. But that’s going to change very quickly.
Though it has a much smaller cast, the feeling of the show is reminiscent of the 1939 film “The Women,” which invited the audience into the rich lives of its all-female cast with no need to present their men’s perspective.
These women, who form a tight bond in the first 20 or so minutes, have plenty to say. As anyone with older female relatives knows, the best talk happens when the men are gone … possibly after the application of alcohol and snacks.
And through a mixture of snappy veranda chat and monologues, the vibrant, animated women do their best to get you invested in their mid-life makeovers. As one character points out, it’s still possible to live life to the fullest after age 40 or 50 … or 60. But time is of the essence.
Tweeten, as the bold, brassy Marlafaye, gets many of the best (often bawdy) one-liners. She deserves props for committing entirely to the character’s slightly unhinged, larger-than-life energy. But Shields, as Randa, sneaks in some subtle physical comedy — keep an eye out for that.
The play hits the emotional highs perfectly, but falters a bit on the dips. Many of the characters suffer even bigger blows over the course of the play, like deaths, health issues, and relationship deterioration.
None of those hits fully register, though — with a laugh and a quip, the script moves on to the next joke. And while it’s enjoyable to poke fun at ageism and sexism, it’s a little jarring to reach for emotional resonance, then for a punchline.
Still, the show is well worth seeing, especially with friends. And grab a drink before or after — the ladies of the Savannah Sipping Society certainly won’t judge.
Anne Halliwell, Post-Bulletin June 24, 2019