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Lone Star - Theatre Review

  By Bill Garry

I've seen Lone Star a number of times in both professional and student productions. The story of a battle-scarred Viet Nam vet, Roy, and his submissive brother, Ray, is set in the junk-strewn yard behind a bar in Maynard, Texas in 1981.  The show was an off-Broadway hit in 1979 due to its willingness to wrestle with topics like PTSD (formerly known as shell shock), small-town dreams, and glory days long dead and buried. The script by James McLure crackles with authenticity and humor.

This production presents an interesting interpretation of Roy, portrayed by Christopher Jordan. Usually, big brother Roy is a loud, angry, manipulative drunk who cajoles, abuses and scares his younger brother and the "frenemy" who drops by. Jordan plays the role cerebrally and as Roy fights his demons internally, you see his brain reach for words and his feet wobble unsteadily.

Unfortunately, as Roy is even-keeled and underplayed, the other actors - Christopher Parker as generous, good ol' bro Ray and Brian Foyster as nervous, prissy Cletus - go full-throttle. They are animated and much more engaging to watch. 

There are times when you actually feel the actors holding themselves back, waiting for Roy's low-key delivery.  Roy is non-threatening, even when waving a two-by-four around, so it is hard to buy when Ray and Cletus talk about their fear of him.

This lack of emotional tension makes the show tedious and feel longer than its 70-minute running time. The Elephant Theatre Company, as usual, presents a first-class production. Scenic design by Christopher Jordan is realistic and perfectly executed. It has exactly what you would expect a redneck bar to have: trash, empty beer bottles, dead leaves and, in a funny supporting role, a couch made out of a car seat stuck on cinder blocks. Matt Richter's lighting is also (pardon the puns) spot-on. At the early performance this reviewer saw, background music levels were uneven, sometimes drowning out dialogue.

Director David Fofi has taken a risk with this very unusual, very original take on the central character, Roy. The show would benefit by following his vibe rather than bouncing off it.

Lone Star runs through May 7th at Zephyr Theatre on Melrose.

Posted By Bill Garry on April 24, 2017 10:16 am | Permalink