No Wire Hangers!

Monday, August 18, 2014 - by Hunter Rodgers
While watching the Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga’s production of Keely and Du, I was relieved to be writing the review and not working on the marketing campaign. It’s a hard sell, to say the least. The play takes the hot-button issue of abortion and hurls it into the audience like a hand grenade. It’s hard to call Keely and Du enjoyable, but it’s certainly exciting. 

The action opens on a young, unconscious woman being locked in a basement with an older southern woman.
Upon waking, Keely, discovers she has been kidnapped by an extremist Christian sect to prevent her from having an abortion. And the woman she shares her prison with is Du, her nurse and only companion for the duration of her pregnancy. For the next hour and a half, this basement is a prison for the audience as well. 

Christy Gallo inhabits the role of Keely and makes her rage like a caged animal. It’s an exhausting performance, full of anger, bitterness, panic, and finally, compassion. The role of Keely requires a top tier actress and it gets one in Gallo. She takes a journey into hell and makes us question our belief in absolution. 

In a diametrically opposing role, Kitty Reel plays Du, the kindly, naive Christian soldier. And it’s to Ms. Reel’s credit that she doesn’t seem to be performing at all. It’s as if this woman walked into the theatre from the Steel Magnolia’s beauty shop. Anyone from the south will recognize her kind. She speaks in idioms, counts her blessings, and loves to talk. And her only gossip partner just happens to hate the sight of her. And so is formed our odd couple. 

This play, by Jane Martin (a pen name for an unknown playwright) is a vehicle for two actresses. The rest of the male cast is largely siphons for talking points. They are designed to be two-dimensional and representational. The leader of the fundamentalist kidnappers, played by Chris Cooper, is a pathetic sort of man, because he so wants to be a fisher of men, but is ultimately uninspiring and cowardly. Cooper gives a sedated performance, which works to express the leader’s ineffectualness.

Lastly, our ensemble is rounded out by Jordan Williams as the man whose baby Keely was trying to abort. Another pathetic creature, who can only stand tall, when standing on the backs of others. Williams is natural and effective, in a small but crucial role.

The production, directed by Casey Keelen, takes advantage of its ingredients. The intensity of Christy Gallo, the homespun charm of Kitty Reel, the squeak of the dungeon door, the whirring of the lights, all add color to the bleak premise. And the actors and script find humor in the darkest of places. Barefoot in the Park, this is not. But, if you possess an open-mind and a strong stomach, then Keely and Du is a play to see. And discuss. More information can be found at ensembletheatreofchattanooga.com

Luken Announces Everyman's War Veterans Day Broadcast Event

Luken Communications, LLC, in cooperation with One Eighty Films and X Factor Entertainment Group, will honor our nation's veterans on Tuesday, Nov. 11, with the broadcast premiere of the feature film Everyman's War. This primetime Veterans Day event will be simulcast on Luken Communications' networks Retro TV, The Heartland Network, TUFF TV and The Family Channel beginning at 8 ... (click for more)

Mid South Symphonic Band Concert Performance On Oct. 26

The Mid-South Symphonic Band will present its Fall Pops Concert on Oct. 26 at 3 p.m. at Brainerd United Methodist Church, 4315 Brainerd Road.  The concert is free to the public. The program will take a musical pops journey around the world as the band plays music from Broadway to Michigan, Liverpool to Chattanooga.  The selections include "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts ... (click for more)

Man Shot At Apartments On Tunnel Boulevard Wednesday Afternoon, Then 2 Juveniles Shot At Rec Center On Oakwood Drive With Suspects In Custody

Chattanooga police officers responded to the apartment buildings at 404 Tunnel Blvd. Wednesday at 1:21 p.m., where residents say they heard multiple shots fired.  Witnesses said they saw multiple suspects fleeing the scene on foot behind the complex.  The male victim was taken to a local hospital for life threatening gunshot wounds.  Later Wednesday, ... (click for more)

Several Arrested Outside Erlanger Hospital When Crowd Gathers After Woodlawn Shooting

Several people were arrested Monday night outside Erlanger Hospital after a crowd gathered and clashed with police. The crowd included family and friends of 20-year-old Apprentice Berry, who was shot multiple times and killed earlier Monday night at the Woodlawn Apartments on Wilson Street. Erlanger officials said the group gathered at the emergency room, but were later moved ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Lost Its Most Popular Citizen - Luther Masingill - And Response

Chattanooga has lost its most popular citizen – Luther Masingill. Although we are saddened we cherish the memories.  All of us have a Luther story.  Mine is the first time I met Luther.  This was before TV and all of Chattanooga listened to Luther on the radio.  I was 12-years-old.  Some of my buddies and I had gone to the State Theater in downtown ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Dear Friend Luther

One sunny morning in June years ago, the renowned radio icon Luther Masingill was on his way back to the WDEF studios on South Broad Street when he stopped for a red light and noticed a young couple in a car idling next to his familiar light blue Ford pickup. “What caught my eye was a buck-toothed boy eating a banana in the back seat,” he explained in an aside to that day’s lunchtime ... (click for more)