Papa Squat’s Store of Sorts (Critic's Pick)

Paul Strickland (Indianapolis)

May 31, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Critic's Pick

Opening night for Papa Squat’s Store of Sorts at the Coffee Emporium saw a full house, earthy coffee aroma (smells from home), an energetic crowd and an outstanding artistic effort by Paul Strickland. Strickland, from Indianapolis, had a big hit, Ain’t True and Uncle False, in the 2013 Fringe, so there was a solid audience anticipation already built for this show. He did not disappoint.

Strickland plays several characters, including Papa Squat, a master of “finding a need and filling it.” He’s a man who provided “sorts,” or, songs, to make folks feel better. Strickland performed Squat’s songs on a guitar. Some have referred to Strickland as the Garrison Keillor of the trailer park and, like, Keillor, he’s not a particularly good singer, but he sings with conviction and respect for the genre, and he sounds like one of us normal folk.

What makes this show shine bright is the historical depth of references that Strickland employs in his fine storytelling. When he refers to pregnancy as getting “the pregnant,” it reminded me of my own Appalachian relatives who spoke of “the headache.” Many funny references to Appalachian culture, describing both female and male kinfolk, were sprinkled lovingly throughout the show. Good lighting and some recorded audio helped bring out the nuances in the set pieces. (There was no printed program so it was disappointing not to give credit to the support techs.)

Strickland was genuinely touched to see the packed house give him a standing ovation.

The show felt a tad long, and perhaps it will be fine-tuned. But it is well worth your time to visit the Big-Fib Cul-de-sac Trailer Park. And enjoy the coffee smells from home.

PAPA SQUAT'S STORE OF SORTS will be performed 7:15 p.m. Sunday, June 1; 8:45 p.m. Monday, June 2; 9:15 p.m. Thursday, June 5; and 9 p.m. Saturday, June 7 at Coffee Emporium (110 E. Central Parkway, Over-the-Rhine).