Written and directed by Del Shores for The Coast Playhouse, “Yellow” describes challenges that threaten a family. It does so with humor and understanding. Sometimes picayune, sometimes monumental, the production reminds us that, no matter what, a family is a family is a family.
This world premiere production resembles a color wheel. With great artistry, Shore blended the production’s hues (golden, ethereal, acrid, nauseous) and tones (happy, ethereal, sad, bitter). With deft draftsmanship he drew the mostly-happy family. Then he complicated it with the introduction of illness and deceit. And he concluded it with the miraculous transformations of his characters.
Set in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the story describes what seems to be a happy family. There’s Bobby Westmoreland (David Cowgill), ex-jock, current high school football coach. There’s Kate (Kristen McCullough), the therapist mom. There’s Dayne (Luke McClure), the high school football star. There’s his sister Gracie (Caroline Shores as understudy for Evie Louise Thompson) who, try as she may, can’t eclipse her brother’s sunny disposition. There’s her best friend Kendall Parker (Matthew Scott Montgomery), the only one who doesn’t know he’s gay. And there’s Sister Timothea Parker (Susan Leslie), Kendall’s Bible-thumping, fire-and-brimstone mother.
It’s the beginning of football season, a big deal to everyone but Gracie. She’s trying out for a school musical. The story recounts what happens when the family adopts Kendall because his mother is less than Christian. When Dayne falls ill. And when a family secret gets unveiled during a blood test. Any one thing could shred the family. None of them do.
The cast was pitch perfect. Cowgill’s Bobby went from romantic fool to the most forgiving husband on Earth. McCullough’s Kate glowed as the adoring wife and dutiful mother, which made her two decade old secret all the more shocking. Shore’s Gracie went from bitter rival to understanding sister. Her contrast to Dayne was striking. For her, everything came hard. For her brother, everything came naturally. If McClure’s Dayne radiates light, then Shores’s Gracie radiates darkness. Montgomery’s stupendous Kendall tiptoed through his emergent identity with precocious humor and preternatural wisdom. And Leslie’s bat-crazy Sister Timothea was a cross between the Wicked Witch of the West and Alfred Hitchock.
Only McClure’s Dayne didn’t change. He was often referred, usually in derision, as perfect. And perfect he was. His blonde hair, radiant smile, unstudied grace, and, especially, that out-of-nowhere kiss made him seem not be of this world. In the end, he wasn’t.
Performances are 8pm, Friday and Saturday, 2pm and 7pm, Sunday. The play runs until September 5. Tickets are $34.99. The Playhouse is located at 8325 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood. For more information, call (800) 595-4849 or visit www.yellowbydelshores.com.