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Redneck tale gives laughter, wisdom

by: Chase Allgood, Scott Skinner and Ken Centers slip easily into their veteran roles in ‘Greater Tuna.’

Only after all that side-splitting laugher dies down does one realize that one's been shown a life lesson or two - about humility, forgiveness and tolerance - or rather the lack thereof.

'Greater Tuna' creators Jaston Williams and Joe Sears have sketched a sharply funny portrait of the good denizens of Tuna, Texas, and nimble and able actors Scott Skinner and Ken Centers have richly painted in the character details with their finely tuned acting strokes. Playing nearly 10 characters each without a misstep, they bring to life the best and worst of human evolution.

Keeping in tune with Williams' and Sears' mantra of 'less is always better,' the set is as simple as the residents seem to be with plywood flats, two sets of tables and chairs, and an old-fashioned radio. The table and chairs become the third characters to this two-person comedy that has serious undertones, capitalizing on its multi-layered sense of simplicity. Setting the mood is Texas twangy country western of Patsy Cline and Hank Williams Sr. But listen to their lyrics, and you'll hear that love's gone awry and that beer drinkin' drowns sorrows.

'Greater Tuna' depicts a day in the life of its residents, starting off with the popular radio show of Arles Struvie and Thurston Wheelis on Station OKKK. They read local news, cut to the local weatherman, and don't seem to pay much mind to national events. Unfortunately, for Struvie and Wheelis, they forgot to flip the switch to their 250-watt radio station. The denizens don't hear, and the denizens don't care. They are more worried about daughters who didn't make the cheerleading squad - again; rebellious sons who are up to no good; sons who collect stray dogs; and poodles that may devour helpless chickens. They're caught up in smut words included in dictionaries that must be snatched from the local libraries and schools; they're concerned about the welfare of hunting grounds; they blather with clichéd abandon a eulogy over a dearly departed judge - who was not dearly beloved by one and all after all.

'Greater Tuna' mocks in good-humored fun narrow-minded beliefs, and Centers and Scott imbued these characters with richness and warmth to soften their red-neck edges. Their remarkable costume changes sometimes caused brief interruptions between the episodic situations, but that's the only downside to this amazing production.

Please see 'Greater Tuna' for pure entertainment and for an evening of shock, awe, and riotous laughter. An additional note, after the Hillsboro performances, the 'Greater Tuna' cast will perform in Olympia, Wash. Then, Scott Skinner will leave Oregon for Los Angeles. This may be your only chance to see this amazing duo.