June 7, 2003



reviewed by
Lynn Trenning






For more about Lynn Trenning, please visit her main page.

While Charlotte’s past continues to fall victim to the bulldozer, the written word provides a shelter for memories. Judith Rozelle has provided such a gift in the form of Shuffletown, a memoir based on her memories of growing up near a crossroads on the Catawba River.

Shuffletown is adapted and directed by Robert Tolan, and features nine actors playing multiple roles. Their stories are testimony to the slow erosion of country living that has resulted in a concrete covered intersection bereft of character. It is appropriate that the first public presentation of the piece takes place in Cooks Memorial Church, in the heart of Shuffletown.

Rozelle tells the stories of five generations of people. Many of the stories are historic, including the creation of a ferry to cross the Catawba, the bridge that replaced it in 1850, and the Yankees who burned the bridge during the Civil War.

This is also a story about the encroachment of urban and suburban ways upon rural communities. Shuffletown is like thousands of small American farming communities. It is about a time when neighbors knew each other’s business, what each other were cooking, and all about the teenaged pranks of the kids down the street. Rozelle provides delicious details, such as the recipe for “stickies,” made of filberts and pecans, brown sugar and paper thin dough.

The 2-1/2 hour production time is long, and the gobbled chronology detracts from the content. The actors represent a broad range of talent. Peggy Irons and Rikki Howie are particularly competent. The educational aspect of the show is precious.

Lynn Trenning, June 7, 2003

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