Charleston Alley Theatre puts on “The Curious Savage”

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

The Charleston Alley Theatre had audiences laughing and enjoying themselves at its performance of the play “The Curious Savage” Friday.

The play is about Mrs. Ethel P. Savage, who gets left $10 million by her late husband and then is committed to a mental hospital by her greedy stepchildren. The play opens with all of the patients of the hospital standing around waiting for her to arrive.

They are all anticipating her arrival eagerly, as she was reported to be a very wealthy and important person.

Part of the reason her stepchildren chose to put her in this hospital was because she gave most of her money to charitable organizations and hid $10 million worth of bonds from them.

The mental patients waiting for her include Fairy May, a woman who is a compulsive liar and constantly wants people to say they love her.

“Say you love me; you don’t have to mean it,” Fairy May said. “I feel wonderful when people say they love me.”

Other residents in the hospital include Florence, a woman who believes a doll she carries around is actually her son; Jeff, a military pilot who was shot down in the war; Hannibal, a man who thinks he can play the violin beautifully when he can not actually play at all; and Mrs. Paddy, an older woman who does not speak except by listing what she hates.

One of the things she hates most is electricity; every so often during the play she shuts off all the lights.

“The Curious Savage” has two plots, one being the stepchildren’s search for the bonds and how Mrs. Savage resists telling them where they are, and the other about Mrs. Savage’s relationship with the rest of the patients.

Mrs. Savage ultimately bonds with each of the patients by talking to them, listening to them and taking them seriously.

Unlike the rest of the patients, who can leave whenever they want, Mrs. Savage is bound to the hospital by her stepchildren, as well as Florence, who cannot leave either.

This leads to her having to decide at the end of the play, when the doctor declares her mentally competent enough to leave, whether or not she wants to leave or not.

Making her decision harder is the love she and the patients share, shown when Mrs. Paddy said she loved Mrs. Savage.

“I hate everything — but I don’t hate you, Mrs. Savage,” she said. “I love you and I don’t want you to leave.”

Katherine Etheridge, a Charleston resident, said she enjoyed seeing each of the characters.

“They all do their part so well,” she said. “Fay was cute, and Mrs. Savage saw the best in everything and everyone.”

Director and actress Marie Jozwiak said they were on a schedule to read four pages a night.

Pat Shannon, who played Mrs. Paddy, said this was her 17th play in 10 years.

“I want to do this the rest of my life until I die on stage,” Shannon said jokingly.

She said she liked that she did not have a lot of lines to memorize, as her character just listed off things she hates.

“At my age, it can be hard to learn a lot of lines,” she said.

She said she has acted in both the Charleston Community Theatre and Charleston Alley Theatre, and she likes the fact that the Charleston Alley Theatre put on unique plays.

“At the CAT they have a lot of very crazy character parts,” she said. “I’ve played a lot of monster characters, like the lady locked up in the attic.”

The Charleston Alley Theatre will also put on the play at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Friday, Saturday, and May 11. The play will also be at 2 p.m. on May 10. Tickets are $10.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]