The Sty of the Blind Pig is a play with a split personality–plenty of laughs and a hint of mystery in the first act, churning conflict and raw emotional upheaval in the second. The combination makes for a pretty potent theater experience.
Written by Philip Hayes Dean and set at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, the play tells the story of a deeply religious mother who shares an apartment with her emotionally fragile 30-something daughter. The two women (Tonia Jackson as daughter Alberta and Margo Moorer as mother Weedy) argue about just about everything from morning ‘til night.
It’s a classic mother/daughter relationship with boisterous confrontations one minute followed by tender moments. Alberta lovingly sets out her mother’s slippers in one scene and draws her mother’s ire in another after she takes one of her daily shots of whiskey. Still it’s apparent that there’s love between the overbearing and protective mother and the daughter who yearns for romantic love and some independence. “When I close my eyes in death,” says Weedy, “you are going to realize I was the best friend you ever had.”
And when a mysterious blind guitar player meets Alberta while in search of another woman, it’s clear that friction between mother and daughter will escalate.
This production by True Colors Theatre Company is directed by veteran Andrea Frye, who extracts stellar performances from the small cast rounded out by Jahi Kearse as Blind Jordan and Earl Billings as Doc.
Despite joining the audience in laughter that, at times, was so hearty that it drowned out dialogue, and relating to familiar rants from a matriarch who often manipulated her offspring with guilt, I didn’t leave the theater completely satisfied. The rapid-fire monologues of Alberta and Blind Jordan about events in their past near the end of the play left me confused about what was possibly fact and what might have been metaphor.
For me it was the kind of theatrical experience that left me wanting to see it a second time to determine if I could grasp those finer points.
The Sty of the Blind Pig runs through Nov. 1 at the Southwest Arts Center in Atlanta. Tickets are $20-$35. For more information, visit www.truecolorstheatre.org or call 1-877-725-8849.