Review: Theatre /verv/ presents a catty world premiere

It's a Woman's World

Thursday night Theatre verv presented the world premiere of Simply Divided, a southern comedy by Georgia-based playwright Jeff Lovettet and directed by J.C. Conway. 

Simply Divided takes place in the Simply Delicious Diner, a local hangout in the tiny town of Simply, Ala., where all the streets are named after great confederate generals. The diner is appropriately plain with one counter, two small tables and a menu of fried fare, collard greens, and cheese grits. The set design captures the rural Southern aesthetic with worn-out plaid table cloths, cat art, and an old radio which plays Hank Williams and Johnny Cash classics. The seemingly content Diner owner, Sissy Mae, (Melanie Cason) anxiously crowds around the radio each morning as the DJ announces Simply’s population stats, which are inevitably disappointing. 

The male population of Simply has become virtually nonexistent since an abhorred Toyota plant (its very name incites dart throwing) in Mobile lured them away. The few remaining citizens are a group of increasingly desperate women and one OCD-riddled man who chew the fat at The Delicious Diner, and whose  dreams seem to have gotten lost decades ago somewhere between General Braxton Brags Boulevard and General Robert E. Lee Avenue.

Without men to satisfy their “needs,” the women have become an eccentric bunch.  D’Ellen (Jackie Helmer) is a hilarious, four-times-divorced cougar who lives off alimony checks, squeezes her body into tiny, age-inappropriate ensembles, and dramatically “smokes” unlit cigarettes (she quit lit cigarettes years ago).      In an ever-present mini tennis skirt and white sneakers, Trish Ann (Caroline Boegel) is a once-promising tennis star in who moved back to Simply after college to take care of her rich grandfather. Twelve years later she’s still waiting for him to kick the bucket so she can finally get her inheritance and pursue her dream of going pro. Behind her sweet, Southern smile is a competitor ready to play on the court and off. Charity (Andrea McGinn) is a gregarious beautician whose enthusiasm and belief that every problem can be solved with a new hairstyle are contagious. She treats the diner like her salon and thinks nothing of teasing  a wig to Tammy Wynette heights while sipping her morning coffee.

The plot is simple: Gabe (Boogie Dabney), a new man (read: fresh meat), moves to town  to teach English at the Simply High. Immediately — and without hardly knowing him — each of the man-deprived women, including Sissy Mae’s daughter, Sarah Beth (Clancy Bryant) who’s back from College, fall in love with Gabe. In their desperation, the women turn on each other and serious cat fighting ensues. Could the diner’s feline décor be symbolic?

The story is lighthearted and could have been told in less time, but while this play will not change your life, it will make you laugh. Lovett’s colorful characters are richly painted. A talented cast brings them to life and succeeds in making their foibles endearing. Falling somewhere between a Lifetime original movie and a particularly boisterous episode of The Real Housewives, Simply Divided is an entertaining theatrical romp that leaves audiences more than simply satisfied.

Support the Charleston City Paper

We’ve been covering Charleston since 1997 and plan to be here with the latest and Best of Charleston for many years to come. In a time where local journalism is struggling, the City Paper is investing in the future of Charleston as a place where diverse, engaging views can flourish. We can't do it without our readers. If you'd like to support local, independent journalism:



The Citadel recruits an acting coach and a retired drill sergeant for Biloxi Blues

Vincent Harris

Fri. Oct. 30 – Sun. Nov. 17:30 p.m. (Fri. & Sat.), 3 p.m. (Sun.)$30, $20 (students)South of Broadway Theatre Co.(843) If playwright Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical play Brighton Beach Memoirs is his Star Wars, think of 1984’s Biloxi Blues as his Empire Strikes Back. The play, set in 1945, tells the story of young Brooklynite […]


10/31 COVID-19 update: 13.6% positive, 831 cases; 36 deaths

COVID-19 updates: South Carolina health officials reported 831 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, with 36 additional confirmed deaths. With 6,097 tests on Saturday, 13.6 percent came back positive. As of 11:30 a.m. Oct. 31, via S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control:Confirmed cases in S.C.:  167,885 (+831)Positive tests in Charleston County (total): 16,832 (+48)Negative tests in S.C.: 1,747,498Deaths in […]

Letters: SC’s modest proposal on race and equity

Editor’s note: Charleston City Paper publishes letters received each week on Saturdays. To submit your own reaction to City Paper coverage or local issues, we welcome letters to the editor. “SC House justice panel seems to skirt race, critics say” answered a question I had since this “task” group was defined by the legislative leadership. Turns out not enough. Here […]

Analysis: Key data show Cunningham as a moderate in Congress

In the race for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District — including large portions of Charleston — one of the key issues is incumbent Democrat Joe Cunningham’s record during his first two years in Congress. Both Cunningham and his opponent, Republican challenger Nancy Mace, have made competing claims about how to interpret Cunningham’s roll-call votes and […]

Brack: Newspapers have a responsibility to publish opinions, endorsements

Social media and personality-driven television shows that comment constantly on news blur the traditional firewall between news and opinion. As a result, some newspapers are abrogating a traditional role of endorsing candidates during election season. This, we think, is wrong. And kind of lazy. It’s vital in a democratic society for there to be robust […]