With his character-heavy drama "Devil Sedan," playing at Studio Roanoke, Kenley Smith continues to give Roanokers reason to forget there is/was a professional theater in town, one that died and is seeking resurrection.
Mill Mountain who? seems to be the popular refrain in the evening on Campbell Ave. these days.
"Devil Sedan" is another of Kenley's signature pieces: raw Southern characters you've probably known if you grew up here, dressed up in short scenes that cumulatively amount to a powerful statement about our culture and our humanity.
"Devil Sedan" looks at a couple of brothers, one more the daddy, the other a n'er do well drunk who stays in trouble. They're Harleigh and Bobby Pence and this is the first in a trilogy about Bobby Pence (the others will run as "Twelve Stations of the Cross" and "New Testament" in October and February).
"Devil Sedan" centers on an apparent murder of two young fundamentalist Christian girls on a camping trip with their church and the role Bobby and Harleigh either did or didn't play in it. The build-up is subtle, often funny (when Kenley goes after the Christian right, it can be hilarious--unless you're the Christian right) and culturally knowing. Kenley knows us all too well on occasion.
The production is made even stronger by the presence of Lynchburg actor Paul Stober, a powerful presence in a powerful role. Austin Alderman's Bobby Pence is convincing and Caitlin Morgan and Elizabeth Gwen Edwards, as the murdered girls, are superb. Omaha-based director Lorie Obradovich's work is spot-on.
"Devil Sedan" features a big cast and it's long for a Kenley Smith piece, but it doesn't play long and it is satisfying theater. It plays four more times Saturday and Sunday. Tonight's show was sold out, so if you want tickets, you might want to call ahead: 540-343-3054.