"Finding Sincerity"

Pairing Wellman's madcap language and Albee's misfit characters

Custom Made Theatre Company's "Finding Sincerity" features two one-act plays: Edward Albee's Finding the Sun and Mac Wellman's Sincerity Forever. In the murky comedy Finding the Sun, four upper-middle-class couples spend a day sunning themselves at the beach. Despite the lovely weather, feelings of frustration and sadness soon cast a permanent cloud over all the characters' lives. Wellman's absurdist rant about religious bigotry, meanwhile, dramatizes the impact of the arrival of Jesus H. Christ, an African-American woman carrying a heavy suitcase, on the feckless inhabitants of the small Southern town of Hillsbottom. Dressed in Ku Klux Klan gear, pairs of bland, Budweiser-swilling Hillsbottomites pontificate on everything from the importance of being sincere to the meaning of the universe, only to expose, unwittingly, their thinly veiled hatred and intolerance. With Wellman's madcap language and Albee's misfit characters, these two contrasting yet complementary plays should make for an entertaining and challenging evening. Yet "Finding Sincerity," though inventively designed by Scott Ludwig, doesn't quite find its feet: The actors have fun with Wellman's larger-than-life theatrics. But besides well-tempered performances from A.J. Davenport and Lewis Campbell as the elderly couple Gertrude and Hendon, respectively, the subtleties of Albee's seaside scenario get completely swept away in a tsunami of stiff acting and overblown staging.

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