Southern mamas are known for being subtle, like a freight train.
— Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, writer
These Southern women from a small town in Alabama are a wondrous thing to behold. I think of the epitome of wicked Southern charm, Miss Scarlett O’Hara. She was strong willed, bossy but can flip a switch in her brain to be gracious and laidback. The ideal and more realistic approach of a Southern beauty with impeccable etiquette may have used Sallie Ward (September 29, 1827 – July 8, 1896) of Kentucky nobility, as a model. These ladies represent that type of Southern charm, intelligence, well-mannered and saying a lot of colorful quotes for any situation. In four decades, each will suffer a loss, newfound happiness and try to leave the past behind will forging into a new future.
As children, Charlotte (Arianna Evangelia), Wanda-Sue (Swiszyzinna), Naomi (Ash Saunders) and Ruth (Jessica Sade Ward) would play house and hide-and-go -seek. These little girls have picked up racism from their parents, calling the black girls the “n” word any chance they get. Back in the 50s, it was accepted as way of life. Say that now, you’ll get your ass beat! Just saying! Charlotte allows Wanda-Sue, who’s bi-racial and her half-sister, to come through the front door. They play with dolls, although Charlotte tosses aside the black babies. As girls, they witness adult behavior. Like the time Charlotte caught her father having an affair. Another time, two of them witnessed a hanging of a black man swinging from side to side in the cool Alabaman breeze, permanently wearing a macabre face with eyes out of their sockets and a twisted mouth. They grew up way too fast. Each decade, from Jim Crow to civil rights represented where the girls, now women are in their lives. The death of John F. Kennedy on Friday, November 22, 1963, set a new path for the women. They paid attention what is going on with world. Some are aghast and some take it as another day in life. It’s interesting how these six girls, now women, can live in the same time and come dangerously differently
The playwrights, Sheri Bailey and Dura Temple, does a remarkable job in writing rich, solid characters with a heavy-duty storyline. These women could be a relative, neighbor or close friend. There is no sign of the ghost of Scarlett O’Hara. These women are real. They fight and cry and win personal battles and comes across as human beings trying to navigate through life. Director Zadie Ife does an excellent job in demonstrating how connected these lives stay together, no matter how far away they are physically. Miss Scarlet would approve but won’t admit to it.
Southern Girls, plays Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. until Sunday, February 26, located Hudson Backstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., in Hollywood. For tickets, log on to www.onstage411.com/southerngirls. One 15-minute intermission. Masks are required.