Minnesota university back in South West London with Texan satire


St Mary’s University of Minnesota’s School of the Arts presents ‘Greater Tuna’ at an Earlsfield theatre.


By Rebecca Felgate

St Mary’s University of Minnesota’s School of the Arts is back in South West London for a consecutive year to present Greater Tuna, ‘a hilarious satire of small-town American morals’.

The Tara Theatre, Earlsfield, claims to be a cultural meeting place with an encouragement of international arts, so it is no surprise that this is now the home away from home for the American troupe.

Greater Tuna, set in Tuna, Texas, boasts all the tack and tat of the small town mindset; yard dogs, double denim, an obese cheerleader wannabe, a duck based fan club obsessive; and it all of the action takes place around a radio station entitled ‘O.K.K.K’…

Minnesota Director, Gary Diomandes, 63, said: “The play is part of Black History Month, we’re showing the flip side.”  

Despite the fact that the production has a slight university fringe feel, the plays boasts many well executed directorial decisions, such as a montage of prayer scenes, spanning from a Christian church ceremony to a KKK Vigil.

The cast work well together to bring the best comic results; quite notably the ‘on air’ relationship between Aaron Pepple (Thurston) and Andrew Russell (Arles) and the directorial beauty that is there radio jingle, consisting of spoon and mug rhythms.

Sarah Andrews also gives a notable and hilarious performance as Petey Fisk, the radio stations animal enthusiast and the plays very own Ned Flanders.

With comic timing and facial contortion to near flawless level, there is no doubt that she is the best thing out of Minnesota since The Mighty Ducks.

The laugh out loud nature of Greater Tuna is effective at presenting the audience with serious issues such as such as the Texan their conservative way of life, their deep religious outlook and active racism and holds them up as something to mock, perhaps a more successful form of scrutiny than a play of a more serious, realistic nature.

Mr Diomandes said that the play first premiered in Texas itself.

He said: “They love it, they love make fun of themselves.”

All in all, the Texas set satire is well executed and brings the American South West to London’s own, radically different, South West.

This cultural clash, however, makes the plays quirky nature easier to laugh at than perhaps something of similar tastelessness in our own country, but does present an interesting insight to small town mentality.

If you miss Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota this year, it is worth waiting until next year for their return. I look forward to what their next theatrical edition.

Greater Tuna runs 18-22 October, 7.30pm at Tara Theatre.

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