It's summer. That means we need beach type entertainment material. Navigable, fun, not too ponderous. It also means road trips, planned as much as one can plan a road trip, a chance to connect with family, and, also, fun. Mama Won't Fly, written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten and directed by James Rice for Little Fish Theatre, is both navigable and fun.
Savannah Honeycutt (Amanda Karr) and and her mother Norleen Sprunt (Susie McCarthy) plan to attend their son's/brother's wedding in Santa Monica. They live in Birmingham, Alabama. Their relationship is, well, it's difficult. Savannah is maternal, which is a polite word for manipulative. Norleen is feisty, chagrined, and not a little proud. She grieves the loss of the One, perhaps, Who, Got Away. Family is family though so, off they go.
Savannah bought the tickets, nonrefundable, of course. Problem is, mama won't fly. A prior flight, gastrointestinal issues, no details necessary. Now it becomes a race against time cross country road trip in a clunker. At the last second, future daughter-in-law/sister-in-law Hayley (Holly Baker-Kreisworth) joins the mix. It turns into a get to know each other odyssey across the bottom part of the country. They may or may not become family but they sure get to know each other along the way.
Adventures abound. These include hitchhiking because someone stole their car and baggage. A visit to a museum of foundation undergarments that would make Madonna and Lady Gaga green with envy. A stop-in at a bar with an identity crisis: is it Irish or is it cowboy? And, finally, a delightful skirmish in Las Vegas.
Rice toned it pitch perfect. Serious issues underscore the story but its emphasis was on Murphy's Law: everything that can go wrong, will. Was Hayley going to marry Mr. Right? Will Norleen rekindle what she thought was True Love? Was Savannah really that oppressive a mother? Who cares? The adventures and the predicaments are what shine in this story.
The performances are spot on, keen. Those southern accents are believable. The cast captures all the nuances of different people thrown together into each other's company. Each woman has a deep side, some kind of embedded craziness. As we see at the end, each has a huge heart as well.
Karr nails Savannah: a pistol, a firecracker, a scourge to Norleen's future happiness. Proving that the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, so was McCarthy's Norleen. Their bickering, their competition, and their shared DNA are funny, no doubt because the audience can relate to it. As a perfect contrast, Baker-Kreiswirth's Hayley seems to optimistic, unjaded, a soon-to-be bubbly bride. As this is a road trip, though, she has baggage of her own. As various roadside attractions, the ensemble cast -- Stephen Alan Carver, Sara DiMeo, Chiquita Fuller, Victoria Yvonne Martinez, and Daniel Tennant -- are not just hilarious, two of them serve as the doors of the car.
Mama Won't Fly is perfect summer fare. Well acted and staged, it will not just entertain you, it will also make you wonder why couples don't just elope.
Performances are 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m, Sunday, July 6. The play runs until July 19. Tickets are $24 - $27. The Theatre is located at 777 Centre Street, San Pedro, CA 90731. For more information, call (310) 512-6030 or visit www.littlefishtheatre.org.