Mark McCombs doesn’t refer to his growing-up years while doing Bottom Feeders Buffet at The Encore, but the Southern small-town characters he creates in the course of his one-man show, both male and female, are so finely drawn that there’s little question that he had years to familiarize himself with them. And, sure enough, he’ll later admit that his childhood was in a tiny burg on the Florida panhandle.

McCombs’ show is a cabaret sibling of the theater pieces in which a solo performer creates a variety of related roles in a revue-like format. From a disabled elder on a walker, through gossipy neighbors, a chatty bait salesman and a frustrated spinster, to the young kid brother in a dysfunctional family, McCombs nails the characters neatly. Some characters may seem near-caricatures, but that’s McCombs' method of probing the most interesting or revealing aspects of each of his studies.

The pieces are alternately funny and poignant; at even the most outlandish small town moments, McCombs’ keen eye never loses its sense of compassion. Expect to laugh and perhaps wipe away a tear or two. You’ll be so swept up into the lives of his people that only after the show is done will you remember that they all were Mark McCombs.

 Cabaret Scenes