THEATER REVIEW: Acting boosts “Brownie Points” at Lamb’s Players

An overnight camping trip forces four Georgia mothers to confront not just a freakish storm outside, but the equally volatile issues of racism, privilege and parenting inside in Janece Shaffer’s “Brownie Points.”

The play runs through May 27 at Lamb’s Players Theatre. Deborah Gilmour Smyth directs.

Each mother has brought an (unseen) daughter, but this play is about the moms. Karson St. John’s Type-A Allison, “retired” from her law practice to care for her disabled son, has organized the campout and is now busy micromanaging everything down to the marshmallow roasts.

Allison is joined by several other moms. Stressed-out single mom Sue (Cynthia Gerber) feels guilty that she depends on Kaja Amado Dunn’s Nicole (trophy wife of an ex-NBA star) to tell her what’s happening at her kid’s school. Jamie (Erika Beth Phillips) is the stay-at-home conciliator (and the only Jew in the group) who just wants everybody to get along.

The weekend starts calmly enough. But a serious storm blows in with the arrival of Deidre (Monique Gaffney), a force of nature as unsettling as anything Mother Nature will produce. Deidre, one of few women and fewer black surgeons in an Atlanta hospital, immediately takes issue with the fact that Allison has assigned her and Nicole – the other African-American – to KP for the weekend.

“I didn’t come up here to play Aunt Jemima in the woods,” she fumes.

This provokes some yelling and stomping and will lead to confrontations and revelations about several topics, most of them predictable.

There isn’t a lot of depth here, but count on a goodly amount of humor, some self-disclosure and fairly frank talk about race – and, of course, the expected détente at the end, complete with a group sing.

The characters are a bit stereotypical, the writing a bit contrived, but Smyth gets strong performances from this fine cast. She’s helped immensely by the usual high production values found at Lamb’s: Michael McKeon’s evocative forest set, Nathan Peirson’s excellent lighting, Keith Bonar’s costumes and Patrick Duffy’s sound design.

The details

“Brownie Points” plays through May 27 at Lamb’s Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Ave. in Coronado.

Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 4 and 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm.

For tickets call (619) 437-6000 or visit HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.