The blessing and the curse related to the August 2019 Del Shores film "Six Characters in Search of a Play is that there is so much good in it that knowing where to begin is tough. Starting from a highly macro level (and to borrow from another "minor gay celebrity") the real-life Shores is one of the most kind and compassionate people in "this filthy world."
"Play" is the lucky seventh performance of the titular one-man show of Shores. The comparison to fellow (deceased) highly literate storyteller Spaulding Gray begins with Shores explaining the classic work to which he is paying homage.
The meta concept of "Play" is that six real-persons in the life of Shores inspire a desire to insert them in work that will join this impressive body of work that includes (reviewed) "A Very Sordid Wedding" that is part of the hilarious "Sordid Lives" franchise of Shores, the MUST-SEE (reviewed) "Southern Baptist Sissies," and the (reviewed) Shores performance film "My Sordid Life" that ties the aforementioned (and much more) together.
This concept evokes thoughts of the reasoning of a summer-camp co-worker who made a big deal about not owning a television when such a s statement was considered a lifestyle. The conclusion of this woman was that the people in her life were more interesting than television characters.
The rest of this interlocking story is that the married middle-aged woman who co-owned the camp with her temporarily absent husband spent the summer openly having an affair with the gregarious hunky blond farm boy who ran the satellite camp.
The taking of liberties with the help proves the point of the counselor AND validates the long history of Shores including the "characters" in his life in his films and plays.
The extension of this is that "Characters" is funny because it true sans any exaggeration or other embellishment. Spoilers regarding these unique individuals. including one who blurs the line between fact and fiction, is mostly limited to discussing the first one. Hearing about the "loud-mouthed lower-middle-class Republican with a heart of gold" (and how a chihuahua upstages her) will require watching the film.
The truly enchanting evening that ends too soon begins with Shores reminiscing about chain-smoking character actress Sarah Hunley, who plays Juanita Bartlett in the "Sordid" films and the television series. Much of this centers around Hunley setting a highly relatable "send her back" style deadline as to filming "Wedding."
Our Gayrisson Keillor especially shines during this portion of the film when describing a frequently repeated ritual in which Hunley engages when he visits her Studio City apartment, Many of us who have called on older people can relate to strict routines greatly prolonging achieving an objective (not to mention an exit strategy).
The stories of Hunley and of the other five people who are varying degrees of near and dear to Shores prove yet another couple of points as to comedy. Carol Burnett is well known for saying that her classic skits work because truly funny material is timeless. Similarly, Burnett notes that she gets big laughs without resorting to blue humor.
NOTHING in "Play" is an more raunchy than Burnett coming out of stage with comically large breasts or Tim Conway silently expressing great pain from straddling a door knob.
Shores further emulates Burnett by presenting material that appeals to everyone from teens just starting to develop secondary sexual characteristics to folks who have reverted to wearing diapers and going to bed at 7.
All of us have these characters, including the guy who finds it necessary to hurl homophobic slurs based on a gas-station encounter, in our lives. Further, everyone in this demographic at least must smile on hearing about the Kum and Go; yes. they do sell Big Gulps.