Saturday, November 15, 2014

Showtimers' 'Charm' Thoroughly Entertaining

Kathleen Cahill's "Charm" is, if not a must-see, then certainly a should-see at Showtimers Studio in Roanoke. It runs through Nov. 23 and you can get tickets for $13.50 at 540-774-2660.

This play, about little-known feminist writer, editor and free-thinker Margaret Fuller, is an often-whimsical, sometimes heartbreakingly honest look at an educated woman's struggles at a time when women--even the best and brightest--were assigned only minor roles in our society.

Fuller was a Harvard-educated, tall, homely woman who surrounded herself with some of the giants in literature of the mid-19th Century. She seemed to mesmerize and captivate them. Her playmates (and they weren't sexual) were Emerson, Thoreau and Hawthorn. She was a woman of great intellect, but--according to this account--unfulfilled in an almost constant sexual longing. She was blunt and honest, strong and persistent. And a bit sad.

The world turned for her later in life when she was assigned by a newspaper to be the first woman foreign war correspondent in Italy. Fulfillment came to her in many ways, including sexually.

This telling, directed impressively by Amanda Cash, comes in a series of brief vignettes that are often fall-down funny and the role of Fuller is marvelously played by Linsee Lewis, a Showtimers veteran. Lewis dominates--as she should--but is given solid support by other frequently-seen Roanoke Valley actors like Stevie Holcomb (always a highlight), Blair Peyton, Chris Shepard and several others.

This is a community theater production in the best sense. Cash serves not only as the director, but also the set designer and one of those constructing the sets. Half the actors in the production play more than one role. See it. There seem to be plenty of tickets remaining and this is thoroughly entertaining.

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