Last night my wife and I traveled down to Beech Grove to catch Spotlight Players’  latest offering – “Greater Tuna” by Joe Sears, Jeston Williams and Ed Howard. I must admit, I have never seen any of the “Tuna” shows, although I had heard of them many times. From what I had heard, I expected some pretty funny stuff. I wasn’t disappointed but I was also surprised.

As many of you know, the cast consists of just two people, who play 10 characters apiece – everything from Texas-toned men and women to small animals. The two very versatile actors in director Jeremy Tuterow’s production are Spotlight founding member Jim LaMonte and Stephen Foxworthy. It’s been a long time since I have seen Jim take the stage, as he is more frequently a director at Spotlight and I have never seen Mr. Foxworthy’s work – and it was a treat to see these two display their talents.

Both actors did an astounding job of creating distinctively delineated characters. They quick-changed through the scenes (with the flawless aid of dressers Julienne Tuterow and Amanda Case) into a stunning variety of personages, treating the audience to a wide range of funny, touching and thought-provoking people. Director Tuterow had an amazing eye for casting, nuance, and variety in leading this small troupe in their Tuna portrayals.

As I said, I expected a humorous treatment of a town full of interesting folk, but I was surprised by the way the script also visited sadness and even a macabre side of these folks. In my opinion, these are holes in the script, places where the shape is forced down into areas the audience is not prepared for. This is not a problem except  that we are not there (in the lower areas) long enough to have a real impact on our feelings before we are pulled up into the comic and bizarre world these citizens share. It’s seems that the playwrights wanted to show some serious drama in the story – which is thin, regardless – and they did not know what to do with the dramatic essence once they got us there.

None of this is the fault of the players, or the production company at large. Spotlight Player’s “Greater Tuna” is a treat – with lots of titters and plenty of belly laughs. It is a remarkable display of talent by Foxworthy and LaMonte that is well worth your time and attention.

Only one more weekend remains in this abbreviated run. The show will be done next Friday thru Sunday (Fri,Sat at 8pm, Sun at 6pm) June 24, 25, 26 at Spotlight’s Main Street venue. Call 317-767-2774 for reservations.

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