OF THE BEST FAMILY is a drama set in the yard outside a seedy rural garage in Georgia. It explores one evening in the life of Charlie Best, a mechanic, and his relationships with his family. The inciting action of the play is the homecoming of the son, C.J., and his new bride, Sheila. There is conflict between Charlie and his wife, Millie, because of his drinking, his women, and his estrangement from his son. The party is enlivened by other relatives who arrive and especially by the outrageous behavior of Fanny who brings up the taboo subject of Charlie's father's suicide, resulting in a brawl in which Bridge is impaled on a piece of metal jutting out from an oil drum and rushed to the hospital. His son C.J. confronts him about his violent behavior. Nadine, his sister, returns with the news that Bridge died and Fanny is determined to have Charlie arrested. Charlie, following in his father’s footsteps, shoots his bottle of whiskey and then himself.
The play won the Great Alaska Playrush. It was given staged readings at the Perseverance Theatre in Juneau and the Portland Stage Company in Maine, showcased at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and produced by Valley Performing Arts in Alaska.

CHARACTERS

CHARLIE BEST He's a mechanic in his mid-forties. A man's man, he is masculine, muscular, and crude. He is restless, dangerous, like a tiger in a cage.

MILLIE His wife, three years younger, works in a shoe factory and has a martyr complex. She wants to keep Charlie pacified and yet wants things her way.

C.J. Charlie Junior, his son, a minister in his mid 20's, has just graduated from Divinity School and married. He wants to make
peace with his father.

SHEILA His son's wife, in her early 20's, is pretty, gracious, and from a
higher class family. She is out of her element.

BRIDGE Charlie's brother, an ex-con in his 30's, is fat and crude. He and his wife enjoy a highly sexual but volatile relationship.

FANNY Bridge's wife, a loud woman in her 30's, is fat, crude, and funny. She is outspoken and craves attention.

NADINE Charlie's sister, a nurse in her late 30's, is pleasant and likes herself and her job. She sees herself as a peacemaker.

JESSIE Charlie's daughter, a 17-year-old, is a bit precocious with keen
insights into the family. She still has the kind of hopes and dreams that Charlie once had.

SETTING
The yard outside Charlie Best's seedy home tacked on to the rear of his garage outside a small town. Part of the garage and the wall of the house extends on a diagonal line from stage right to up left. The garage portion downstage has a door at ground level and a cubbyhole cut in the wall so that Charlie can get to the phone when he's outside. It has a plywood door hinged over the hole. There are steps up to the door and a window further up left. Stage left is an uneven wooden fence, weathered and broken in places. Center is a homemade wooden picnic table with benches. There's a cooler and several lawn chairs scattered about. The yard is full of junk—a pile of old tires is stacked outside the garage door. Along the fence are old car parts: doors, fenders, a radiator. Up left is an oil drum set up on a metal frame with a piece of angle iron jutting out.

TIME
The present, a June evening.
SYNOPSIS

BEST FAMILY is a drama set in the yard outside a seedy rural garage. It explores one evening in the life of Charlie Best, a mechanic, and his relationships with his family.

The inciting action of the play is the homecoming of the son, C.J., and his new bride, Sheila. There is conflict between Charlie and his wife, Millie, because of his drinking, his women, and his estrangement from his son. Other relatives soon arrive; Nadine, Charlie's sister; Bridge, his brother, an ex-con; Fanny, Bridge's loud-mouth white trash wife; and finally the young couple. The party is enlivened by outrageous behavior of Fanny who brings up the taboo subject of Charlie's father's suicide, resulting in a brawl in which Bridge is impaled on a piece of metal jutting out from an oil drum and rushed to the hospital. His son C.J. confronts him about his violent behavior. Nadine returns with the news that Bridge died, Fanny is determined to have Charlie arrested, and Charlie shoots himself.


PRODUCTION HISTORY

A staged reading of the play under the title "Like Father, Like Son" was presented at the University of Alaska Anchorage on November 7 and 8, 1985. It was directed by the author. The cast included:

Jessie ........................………......Glenhelen Smither
Millie ..............................…….............Linda Vitale
Charlie ............................…..…..........Taylor Hanes
Nadine .....................................…......Jeanie Greene
Bridge ................................……........David Bulger
Fanny ..................................……...Michelle Booher
C.J. .............................................….. Tracy Hinkson
Sheila .........................….…….Katherine Hitchcock


A portion of the play was presented in a Showcase at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival in August 10, 1986.

The play won the Great Alaska Playrush 1987, sponsored by the Perseverence Theatre.

A staged reading under the title "Like Father" was presented at the Perseverence Theatre in Juneau on May 22 and 23, 1987. It was directed by Gregg W. Brevoort. The cast included:

Jessie .....................................................Liesl Bland
Millie ......................................................Jane Waid
Charlie ...................................................Gary Waid
Nadine ...............................................Joyce Galster
Bridge ...................................................Alan Baley
Fanny ..............................................Julie Van Driel
C.J. ....................................................Leon Parsons
Sheila ....................................................Dawn Pisel

The play was a finalist in the Jerome Fellowship competition at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, 1987.

The play was given a staged reading at the Portland Stage Company on February 15, 1988. Acting Artistic Director: Richard Hamburger; Managing Director: Mark Somers. The reading was directed by Craig Foley. The cast included:

Jessie ...................................................Erika Marks
Millie ..............................................Stacy Morrison
Charlie ........................................Dick McGoldrick
Nadine ...........................................Susan Monagan
Bridge ................................................Harlan Baker
Fanny ...............................................Kim Connolly
C.J. ...............................................Chris McDonald
Sheila ........................................ Christine Marshall

The play was produced by Valley Performing Arts in Palmer, Alaska.
September 30 - October 8, 1989. It was directed by Laura Stribling. Set Design was by Laura Smith; Lighting Design by Frank Mengel; Sound Design by Brian Christopher; Stage Managed by Rebecca Owens. The cast included:

Jessie .................................................Trill E. Gates
Millie ................................Elisa Hitchcock-Conley
Charlie ............................................Shane Mitchell
Nadine ..................................................Erin Dagon
Bridge .........................................George Campnell
Fanny ..................................................Laura Smith
C.J. .................................................Dev Galloway
Sheila .............................................Rachel Gregory