Playwright Mark Dunn went to the UT Austin. His time in Texas taught him much about how Southern women relate to each other. At Novato Theater Company through June 10, his “Five Tellers Dancing in the Rain” is a comedy about bank tellers who meet each morning in the break room of a branch bank in Oxford, Mississippi to share the latest episodes of their personal soap operas—episodes that invariably involve men and the problems they cause.
Hande Gokbas plays head teller Lorene, who scarcely tolerates her co-workers’ tardiness and inattention to work until she meets a promising potential mate herself. Meanwhile the other tellers—Jenny (Lindsay John), Twyla (Janelle Ponte), Betina (Jayme Catalano), and Delores (Sandi V. Weldon)—engage nonstop with problems as minor as personal disagreements and as serious as divorce and death, talk of which is a mix of deadpan discussion and provocative pronouncement delivered in plausible accents.
With “Five Tellers,” Dunn follows a foolproof time-honored strategy for comedy: put very different characters in a pressure cooker, and slowly turn up the heat. It always worked for Neil Simon, and under the direction of Anna Smith, the gambit works nicely here too. This well-paced companion piece to “Steel Magnolias” offers plenty of laughs and an upbeat conclusion that will make you happy you bought a ticket.
ASR Senior Editor Barry Willis is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and president of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.
“Five Tellers Dancing in the Rain” by Novato Theater Company at NTC Playhouse, 5420 Nave Drive, Novato
Through June 10; Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.
Tickets: $15 – $27
Info: 1-855-682-8491, www.novatotheatercompany.org
Rating: Three-and-a-half Out of Five Stars