Labor party

Kitchen Dog takes us down a long but scenic Road

Be forewarned: Road clocks in at almost three hours with one 15-minute intermission, when Max Hartman gets to showcase his truly astonishing Ringo Starr impersonation inside the karaoke pub Scott Osborne has erected in the McKinney Avenue Contemporary's lobby. The first act lasts almost 90 minutes, and I'd be lying if I said the play wasn't slow here and there because of the relentless sewer-crawling pace of the characters' nocturnal escapades. But given the shrillness, the crudeness, the remorse, the toxic loneliness that playwright Jim Cartwright rubs in our faces, you have to marvel at how many small moments of deft theatricality, touching observation, and even gentle comedy director Tina Parker and her stellar cast find in the economic mudslide.

The second act is shorter and more focused, and it offers the characters and us a morsel of the possibility of transcendence -- through human contact, no less, in an epic of missed connections and brutal, shouting face-offs. Road isn't schematic enough to offer solutions, which is probably just as well. An overt endorsement of labor politics would cheapen the human misery here (even if, in ho-hum real life, it had made a real difference in these people's fates). The art of theater is what turns all the oppressiveness from numbing to tingling and, occasionally, thrilling. So many talented stage artists working at the height of their abilities keep you afloat along the river of muck.

Scullery (Max Hartman) raises a toast to alcohol as painkiller in Kitchen Dog's frequently riveting look at unemployment and ennui in Margaret Thatcher's England.
Scullery (Max Hartman) raises a toast to alcohol as painkiller in Kitchen Dog's frequently riveting look at unemployment and ennui in Margaret Thatcher's England.

Details

(214) 953-1055
Through March 5

The McKinney Avenue Contemporary,
3120 McKinney Ave.

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