Underground Movement

Floyd Collins escapes the traps of its creators

And yet, I found myself undeniably moved by Plano Repertory Theatre's production of a very strange book and score that's garnered an international cult not dependent on New York cachet. The yodeling and echo motifs; the discordant score that trampled melody and sent the singers into repetitive brawling with the orchestra during the most intensely felt moments; and the anti-musical sight of one man spending most of two acts twisted up in a tunnel with a pained expression, reliving his family conflicts and his ambitions and bumping against the limits of his faith in God as he grows weaker and more fearful--all were compelling for their determination to give momentum to an essentially plotless, preordained tragedy. For all its shortcomings, Floyd Collins barrels toward a ga-ga mixture of elation and horror that ends with slowly fading lights on the horizon. One of the characters mentions Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum in reference to Floyd's plight, but this show reminded me more of a musical version of The Premature Burial; it spins brooding joy out of a particular primal fear.

This photo featuring Dara Whitehead and Stan Graner is the happiest thing about the sorrowful musical Floyd Collins.
This photo featuring Dara Whitehead and Stan Graner is the happiest thing about the sorrowful musical Floyd Collins.

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