Another reunion script? Yes, but “Reunion in Bartersville” is not about white yuppies looking back on their lost youth. Instead, it reunites the class of ’33 from a black high school in a small Texas town, 50 years on.
Only four members of the class survive, or so they believe. Why, Janie Mae Hopper has collected the obits of all the others, as proof. You can’t believe everything you read in the papers, though, and you shouldn’t necessarily accept the verdicts of 50-year-old murder trials either. These are among the lessons learned by the class of ’33.
Celeste Colson Walker’s comic whodunit isn’t original. Its exposition is unwieldy, and its first act could benefit from a few subtle hints of what’s to come. Still, as a light vehicle for older black actors, it runs like a well-tuned sports car.
The worst feature of the Cambridge Players production is the venue--a church social hall, with the unsatisfactory sight lines and acoustics that one might expect. However, Edmund Cambridge’s actors respond with broad, house-filling performances that, for the most part, overcome the obstacles of the place.
Pollina (Lynn Hamilton), a blond and buxom nightclub owner from Houston, struts into the party with her fifth husband in tow (Glenn Towery)--a 28-year-old who knows all about security systems. They’re the play’s most amusing twosome.
The two who have remained in Bartersville are the fussy amateur poet, Janie Mae (Carla Louise), and her gossipy cousin (Arnold Johnson). Dapper Perry Roussel (Scott Cunningham) and his young white wife (Pamela Nelson, too much the voice of reason) fly in from the Coast. Then there’s the mysterious A.J. (suave Frank Jenkins).
The costumes, coordinated by Harriet Lott, expertly delineate the different paths taken by the members of the class and their spouses.
Performances are at Angeles Mesa Presbyterian Church, 3751 West 54th St., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m., through Sept. 29; (213) 294-4446.