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Funny Fish

Greater Tuna takes place in the town of Tuna, Texas. The townspeople are dedicated to the betterment of the world for the "right people." No matter what the audience thinks, many of the references to life in the South do have a basis in reality, adding to the enjoyment of those versed in Southern ways.

Kevin Rupnik's set is sparse, thoughtful. There's a table, two chairs and -- center stage -- an enormous 1950's radio bathed in yellow: It is for the audience to use their imagination to fill in what is left out.

The actors go through a fantastic number of costume changes and do some of the material twice, with variations, for emphasis. But the rhythm is very smooth and with just the right speed to mock the southern slowness. The first treat is the early morning news show where one of the speakers comments while the other goes and changes into different characters to reply.

The scene is then "changed" into Bertha's home during the family breakfast. We meet Caroline who dreams of becoming a cheerleader and Stanly who holds a grudge against the local judge for sending him to reform school. Bertha, the mother, tries to keep control of the family with nicely-pointed frequent doses of Southern hypocrisy.

The Southern tour continues with a critical look at gossip, at a "true" Southern lady, the church of the South, the humane society -- symbol of the good will of some southern people -- the KKK, Southern hospitality and, finally, Southern efficiency; the number of characters and costume changes involved in recreating these impressions makes the acting troupe appear to multiply in number and effect.

It's the imaginative talent and breadth of acting ability of Joe Sears and Jaston Williams -- who also co-wrote the play -- that makes the show. Both come from Texas and do an excellent job at imitating mannerisms and drawls. All shades of Southern local color are vividly depicted -- bigotry, biases and hypocrisy are all thrown into sharp relief.

Greater Tuna makes for a hilarious two hours which fly by as the radio takes us from one scene to the next. You'd be well-advised to go tune in.

David Waldes->