Entertainment » Theatre

Lakebottom Proper

by Kayla Miller
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Sep 12, 2011
Barbara Cole Uterhardt as Rowena Tuttle, Chery Rookwood as Mrs. Kelley, and Doug Graham as Tad Tuttle in "Lakebottom Proper"
Barbara Cole Uterhardt as Rowena Tuttle, Chery Rookwood as Mrs. Kelley, and Doug Graham as Tad Tuttle in "Lakebottom Proper"  (Source:OnStage Atlanta)

Everyone's heard that old saying, "life's a charade." Nowhere does this ring more true than in Topher Payne's Lakebottom Proper, running through October 1 at OnStage Atlanta.

Rowena and Tad Tuttle live on the "good side" of Lakebottom Park, and we see those class issues at work right from the first act, which is set on what Tad calls the Tuttles' patio, but which Rowena insists is, in fact, their veranda.

After waiting six years for their "perfect" Columbus, Georgia home to become available, with "perfect" charm and an even better view of Lakebottom Park, the Tuttles have set their sights on landing a coveted spot in Brookstone, the most prestigious and exclusive private school in Columbus, for their daughter, Portia -- which is no easy task.

Though seemingly disinterested in her daughter's extracurricular-filled life, Rowena Tuttle (Barbara Cole Uterhardt) has staggered through four failed attempts to score Portia a place in Brookstone -- two of which ended in displays of her daughter's pyromania. Rowena fears that the Tuttle family has only one chance left to secure Portia's place in Lakebottom Park's most esteemed school.

After Tad has a chance encounter with the lesbian couple who act as heads of the Brookstone Parents' Association, he invites them to the Tuttle home for drinks with a side of schmoozing.

By maintaining a balanced mix of sincerity and cluelessness, Uterhardt captures the audience with her earnestness and pours the syrupy Southern charm on thick -- just the way we like it.

Concerned that the Tuttles' "white bread" life isn't diverse or cultured enough for the Brookstone crowd, Rowena fashions an intricate tapestry of deceit to impress the lesbians, determined to round out the Tuttles' otherwise "perfect" existence by landing her daughter in the most "perfect" school in their city.

But of course, no one among the topmost of society got there by telling the truth. And though Rowena has no short supply of mountainous, elaborate tales, the truth barges into her properly made-up existence in the form of her mother, complete with pickup truck, cow tranquilizers, and a mutant dog in tow.

Rowena's mother, Ethelene (Frankie L. Earl) couldn't be more convincing as a happy-go-lucky bumpkin, and throughout the disastrous yet hilarious afternoon, Ethelene is a treat every time she appears onstage. After the lesbians arrive and the web of lies becomes increasingly tangled, the audience is able to fully appreciate Rowena's observation that, "Living in a fog of deception is what makes polite society possible."

As a social-climbing Georgian housewife, determined to charm and deceive her way out of her Colquitt bumpkin past, Uterhardt couldn't be more perfect. By maintaining a balanced mix of sincerity and cluelessness, Uterhardt captures the audience with her earnestness and pours the syrupy Southern charm on thick -- just the way we like it.

"Lakebottom Proper" plays on its audience's own ideas of privilege, class, and the harmless "white lie" in order to reveal the layers upon layers of farce necessary to live and interact amongst the higher rungs of Southern society.

"Lakebottom Proper" runs through October 1 at OnStage Atlanta, 2597 N. Decatur Rd. Atlanta, GA. For info or tickets call 404 245 4205 or visit www.theprocesstheatre.org

Comments

Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook