By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
It's certainly a risky choice for the donor-conscious, white establishment-friendly Dallas Theater Center. From the first night of previews, the house manager has reported more mid-show walkouts than usual--30 one night, a dozen the next. (On the night reviewed, a Saturday preview, only a handful of ticket-holders didn't return for the second act.)
Patrons and even a few volunteer ushers have complained that the play uses too many cuss words and contains too much sexual content. This is definitely R-rated stuff, verbally and visually. In more than one scene Booth reaches into his knit boxer-briefs to stroke himself. He offers graphic descriptions of his sexual liaisons with girlfriend Grace. Booth's favorite adjective is "daddydicksticking," as in "anywhere in the daddydicksticking vicinity of my humble abode."
Definitely not for the conservative blue-hairs who tend to populate the DTC subscriber rolls. But so what? Theater needs to stretch past the safe and secure and to entertain new voices for a new audience. Topdog/Underdog is challenging but it's also thrilling. And between the F-words, it offers a riveting story of two brothers, allies and rivals who are fighting to survive as they figure out how to play the cards they've been dealt in life and how it feels to get played.