a mystery in two acts
4 f / 3 m
It’s 1932, and 20 year-old orphaned tobacco heir Smith Reynolds has returned from New York to his family’s Winston-Salem estate with a surprise souvenir: a wife.
The new Mrs. Reynolds is notorious Broadway star Libby Holman- a dozen years older than Smith. She arrives with a trunkload of gin and an acting coach who is quite possibly insane.
Smith’s guardian, Kate Reynolds, attempts to manage the scandal- giving Libby a crash course in Southern decorum. A party is thrown to introduce the newlyweds to society, but it’s flat-out ruined when the groom turns up dead.
The guests are gathered to reconstruct the evening’s events for a beleaguered County Solicitor, but they fail spectacularly, which shouldn’t be a surprise.
For Southerners, the truth isn’t nearly as important as a good story.
“A Rashomon-meets-Tennessee Williams-style story where the truth remains elusive... The play is a delightful and original treatment that balances froth with gravitas while investigating the meaning of lust, greed, hypocrisy and loss... Swell Party is anything but. It’s a den of snakes, waiting to strike. Most impressive.”
- THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
“Swell Party isn’t just set in the 1930s; it exhumes and thoroughly revives that era’s conventions. There’s the staunch dowager, the dashing aviator, the eccentric stage diva and the brash Broadway starlet, all behaving as they might had the play actually been written in the ’30s... Charming, funny, lively and winningly old-fashioned. It’s a play that deserves to be a hit... Expertly and energetically done.”
- ARTS ATL
“Swell Party puts in place the elements of screwball comedy but adds considerably more than that... a mash-up of Tennessee Williams-style Southern Gothic and drawing-room whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie... touches on all the bases of breezy humor, family psychodrama and surprise revelations, living up to its considerable ambitions. It's pretty swell-egant.”
- CREATIVE LOAFING
“Exhilarating and original.”
- ATLANTA THEATRE BUZZ
2013 Suzi Bass Awards
Nominee, Gene-Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award
Nominee, Outstanding World Premiere
Winner, Outstanding Costume Design, Linda Patterson
Nominee, Outstanding Featured Actress, Suehyla El-Attar (Libby Holman)
Nominee, Outstanding Featured Actress, Tess Malis Kincaid (Blanche Yurka)