By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Expanding to a full production means a bigger, more detailed set—suggestions of side-by-side manufactured housing parked in an ugly chunk of Florida—by designer John Hobbie. Lighting by David Natinsky is hit and miss, meaning the shaky follow spot often hits the wrong places and misses the actors. Costumer Michael A. Robinson never saw a hideous outfit he couldn't make more hideous. Lucky for him the characters in Trailer Park are supposed to be fashion disasters.
Instead of sparkling witticisms, the jokes in Betsy Kelso's script for this comedy run toward the rip-roaringly rude. "Ron-daze-vooz," says Cara Serber's character, Lin, whose husband's on death row. "That's French fer fuckin'."
The Twilight of the Golds, now running at Uptown Players, and Shining City, the latest at Undermain Theatre, speak their own weird languages. Both are weighty with serious verbiage, giving with the blah-blah till you think they'll never shut up.
Right Ho, Jeeves continues through October 21 at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, 214-828-0094.
The Great American Trailer Park Musical continues through October 28 at WaterTower Theatre in Addison, 972-450-6232.
Twilight of the Golds continues through October 21 at Uptown Players,214-219-2718.
Shining City continues through October 20 at Undermain Theatre, 214-747-5515.
Twilight's family of unlikable Jewish liberals—a geneticist, his wife, her gay brother and parents—give lip service to tolerance until it gets personal. The wife learns through experimental gene mapping that her unborn child probably will be gay (though playwright Jonathan Tolins chooses to phrase it as "like your brother"). Her parents are horrified at the idea of another one of those running around. Her brother, an opera nut who quotes tiresomely from Wagner's Ring Cycle, equates aborting the fetus with negating his whole life.
Every character gets an indulgent, melodramatic monologue in Twilight, which drags on till sunrise with its emotional sturm und drang. Only one of the performances—Joe Nemmers as the genetics expert—manages to make Tolins' words sound natural or interesting. As the wife, Jody Rudman is as clenched as her hair, which falls over her small face in thick, frizzy drizzles. Frances Fuselier and Lois Sonnier Hart are all bluster as the parents. Clayton Ferris hits one shrill note after another as the brother. All issues aside, this is a family that should be stopped from expanding at all costs.
A dead wife's ghost is what John (Bruce DuBose), the main character in Shining City, talks about as he sits on the couch of an inexperienced therapist (Anthony L. Ramirez). Speaking in sing-songy bad Irish accents, DuBose and Ramirez struggle with 90 minutes of Irish writer Conor McPherson's sentence fragments and repetitive interjections of "you know" and "I mean."
Nothing much happens in this play, which presumably is why Undermain's doing it. They seem to specialize in inert dramas. DuBose just stares straight ahead, letting his left eyebrow do the emoting while the rest of his body goes slack. It's the opposite of what Regan Adair's achieving in his performance over at Right Ho, Jeeves. Adair is off-the-scale "ert," which is infinitely more entertaining.