SALT LAKE CITY — My Dear Debbie, created by Casey Tregeagle, is another virtual entry of the Salt Lake Fringe Festival. With the flavor of an, I Love Lucy, episode, the action starts in black and white as Debbie, played by Kari Ringer, and her best friend Hannah McGinley Lemasters hatch a plan to hide some spending from Debbie’s husband. Suddenly, vision switches to full color and a man talking on a cellphone. Color me intrigued.

Show closes August 8, 2021.

My dear reader, I did not expect at all the story that came next. I do kind of wish there had been a trigger warning. What I thought was going to be just a cheery show turned out to be a very telling story about domestic violence, family violence, and what people will do to protect those around them. The story of Debbie and the skill of Ringer in portraying the happiness in the beginning followed by the determination was astounding.

The writing by Tregeagle was excellent, if slightly traumatizing for someone who has been through similar experiences like me. When Debbie’s husband, played by Sean Powell, moves on from being a simple jerk to some more shocking behavior, I found a blanket to wrap around myself for comfort but knew I was watching good acting of a difficult but important story.

Michael Knight’s actor who plays a searching young man trying to find answers did a great job of compelling the audience while not giving away too much of the final ending that would have spoiled some of the most intriguing connections. Michael’s desire for answers was believable, and the actor’s capability to portray that characterization was impressive.

Director of Photography, Jonathan Rodriguez, did an excellent job of capturing the different parts of this project and making them realistic in their opposite elements. The levity of the 50s sitcom coupled with the seriousness of the subject matter can almost seem off putting, but again, coming from experience, I can attest to how many people want to just turn a smiling blind eye to the pain and suffering of others, because it does not match their world view. I found the creation of Tregeagle to be spot on in its pain and humor.

Be sure to watch through to the end, because the production team, knowing that they gave us something difficult, gifted us with a lovely gag reel, which was a needed respite.

Featured Dancer Productions’s production of My Dear Debbie is available to watch on demand throughout the run of the Great Salt Lake Festival, until August 8, 2021. Tickets are $11. For more information, please visit their Fringe Festival webpage.

These reviews are made possible by a grant from the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks program.