THE COVER OF LIFE
by R.T. Robinson
The Footlight Players
Charleston, South Carolina
Cover of Life ably explores conflicts of wartime brides
BY DOTTIE ASHLEY
Post & Courier Reviewer 04/19/02
Amid the nostalgic strains of Skylark and other World War II tunes, The Cover of Life opened Thursday at The Footlight Players. The play is about compromises, great and small, and how the news a war bride gets can be worse than receiving the dreaded telegram or seeing a chaplain at the front door.
Based on a true story by R.T. Robinson about three brothers who enlist in different branches of the service, leaving their brides to live with their parents, the play is set in a small town in Louisiana. When a local reporter writes a story about the women for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Henry Luce reads about it and decides this would make the perfect Life magazine cover during wartime.
Ably directed by Steve Lepre, the first act speeds by as the playwright establishes the personalities of the three Cliffert women: Sybil, the “wild” one who spends her nights dancing in the local bar; Weetsie, the most traditional of the three; and Tood, who wants out of the shadow of her husband’s family so they can have a life of their own.
Eloquently played by Samantha Andrews, Tood is torn between loyalty to her husband and her own wishes. Emily McSherry pulls off some humorous moments as Weetsie, while Paulette Todd does a superb job as the tragic, conflicted Sybil. As the local news reporter, Liz Brion is feisty and honest as she helps Kate Miller, the Life reporter, learn about the town. Kimbi Glenn shows the right touch of sophistication as Kate, a feminist.
As the mother of the boys, Ola Cliffert, known affectionately as “Aunt Ola,” Gene Glave pulls off quite a switch from the cliche of the traditional older woman. Rather, she grieves because she has allowed herself to be used by her husband and three sons.