Cold Hands, Warm Hearts in Almost, Maine

Also: Young lovers bore in Kitchen Dog's Trestle

Town bad girl Pace Creagan (played with zero sensuality by SMU theater student Lucinda Rogers) is two years older than Dalton Chance (an equally oomph-free Colter O'Ryan Smith). He's smitten with her wildness, but she refuses to touch him. The more she turns him on and pushes him away, the angrier and more violent he becomes. But mad enough to kill her? As scenes skip back and forth in time, the mystery of why Dalton is in jail and how Pace died is unraveled.

Trouble is, Pace and Dalton, characters and actors, are so dull, we're praying for the train to flatten both of them before intermission.

Playwright Naomi Wallace writes in oblique cryptograms, each phrase an air-sucking collision of grim ideas and bad poetry. "The only way to love someone is to kill them," says Dalton. (Go on, kid, lie down on those tracks.)

Allison Tolman, Lee Trull and Kristen McCollum drift into romantic situations in WaterTower's snowy comedy Almost, Maine.
mark oristano
Allison Tolman, Lee Trull and Kristen McCollum drift into romantic situations in WaterTower's snowy comedy Almost, Maine.

Details

Almost, Maine continues through March 2 at Addison Theatre Centre's Studio Theatre, 972-450-6232.

Trestle at Pope Lick Creek continues through March 15 at Kitchen Dog Theater at The MAC, 214-953-1055.

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Each of Wallace's five characters is a ghostly shell, a limp specter from low-grade Gothic horror. Dalton's parents, clad in shapeless homespuns the color of dung, make the Joad family look like party animals. Gin (Shelley Tharp-Payton) endlessly wrings her hands, which have turned bright blue from harsh chemicals at her glass factory job. Unemployed husband Dray (Nicholas Venceil) holds himself stiffly in a chair, nearly catatonic from lack of work. When they finally talk to each other, Gin and Dray (those names, ugh) toss white plates between sentences. If they'd spin the plates on sticks like a circus act, the scene might be less of a snore.

The other character is Chas Weaver (Raphael Parry), the jailer tormenting Dalton with impressions of turtles and geese. 'Nuff said there.

Trestle at Pope Lick Creek is two hours long. That's the only light at the end of this tunnel.

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