Shopworn, a playabout finding the line between heritage and hate, and what do with the racist artifacts left behind, is a surprisingly fun show
The story follows two estranged brothers who return home following their mother’s passing: Dalton (Gary DuBreuil), the liberal Brooklynite who has shunned his southern roots; and Ash (Jesse Marciniak), the oil worker who isn’t afraid to be a country boy. Throw into the mix a woman with a balloon corset and Dalton’s black girlfriend Molly (Anika Harden) in a mostly white, southern town and you’ve got a show ripe with laughable opposites and awkward situations.
The main point of tension comes up after their mother’s funeral. The brothers finish accepting condolences from people they don’t know (nor care to), and head to their mom’s antiques shop to figure out how much of the inventory is sellable. Much to Dalton’s surprise, the shop is pretty profitable, but there is one problem: antique objects often come with antique sentiments. Like figurines of child laborers or Jim-Crow era knick-knacks.
In a store where people buy objects because to their history, can you still sell racist objects with integrity? And what do you tell your girlfriend when she finds out your mother collected and sold these items shortly after driving past a statue of Robert E. Lee? Dalton, Ash, and Erica (Rachel Manteuffel), the woman who works at the store, comically tip-toe around the racial landmines as best they can, until they inevitably set a few off. Molly has plenty to say about it, but so does their mother.
Ash’s goofy commitment to his southern pride plays well off of Dalton’s snarky, sarcastic keyboard warrior. Erica’s ridiculous antics and southern charm help cut the tension between the brothers while providing a laugh. And Molly brings all of the eye-rolling exasperation more than earned in this unapologetically white space.
Shopworn is the kind of show that strikes a chord in this current political climate. With an ever-churning news cycle of “could it get worse?” moments followed by troll-filled comment sections, it’s nice to get a chance to laugh at the way we disagree.
closes July 28, 2018
Details and tickets
Most of Shopworn’s production choices are done well. The kitchy set reflects the feel of an antique store. The more offensive items are not initially on display, but are revealed throughout the show. The costume choices, both casual and formal, represent the characters’ two different worlds. The lighting and audio smooth out the transitions, a hurdle that all without traditional stages have to work around.
Shopworn is a fun show to watch and definitely hits its mark of making the audience laugh, but there were still a few stumbling blocks. At times, the show can feel like a lecture on the history behind the knick-knacks.
I commend the show for tackling the often uncomfortable subject of racism and what it’s like trying to reach across the aisle in order to talk people who don’t think the way you do. However, what appears as a satire of coastal progressives, comes off as preachy at times. Despite all of the PC jargon,the story comes to an interesting climax that is worth seeing.
Shopworn by Derek Hills . Directed by Bryanda Minix . Featuring Gary DuBreuil, Anika Harden, Rachel Manteuffel and Jesse Marciniak . Presented at Capital Fringe . Reviewed by Alexis Arnold.