The Dayton Theatre Guild’s special return engagement of Ted Karber, Jr.’s one-person comedy “Precious Heart” is a totally engaging, surprisingly touching outing thanks to Greg Smith’s effortlessly authentic and sincere turn as chatty spinster Fleeta Mae Bryte.
With natural ease and Southern fried charisma, Smith completely inhabits the colorful, independent Fleeta Mae, a longtime resident of Precious Heart, Texas who takes pride in knowing everything about everybody and still yearns for someone to love. Numerous stories are told over the course of two hours, and Smith wonderfully transitions from topic to topic steadily guided by director Blake Senseman. You’re bound to laugh when Fleeta Mae reminisces about her oddball relatives, the Armadillo War, her desire to become an airline stewardess, or her decision to cast a 14-year-old as the Baby Jesus in a live nativity. Conversely, the pensive moments, such as Fleeta Mae’s contemplation of suicide and bout with breast cancer, provide the compelling ingredient necessary to push the jokey material to a meaningful plateau. Particularly heartwarming are the final minutes which emphasize the universal significance of connectedness.
In addition to his acting duties, Smith, a noted scenic designer, has created an eye-catching set overflowing with kitschy clutter by set decorator Wendi Michael.
“Precious Heart” could have resulted as nothing more than a flamboyant drag act, but Smith transforms the play into something far greater and life-affirming.
“Precious Heart” continues through Sunday, December 12 in the Caryl D. Philips TheatreScape at the Dayton Theatre Guild, 430 Wayne Ave. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10-$17. For tickets or more information, call (937) 278-5993 or visit www.daytontheatreguild.org