The Unseen Steals the Show at the Out of the Loop Festival

Rum and Vodka stops it and Fool for Love flops all by itself

Wonderful stuff.

As difficult as it is to define what makes one performance transcend another, it's almost too easy to zero in on what weak actors do wrong. In Fool for Love, now in the Black Box Theatre at the Hampton-Illinois Library in Oak Cliff, the two leads in Sam Shepard's four-character play wrestle with the dialogue and each other in a staging by MET Theatre and Totally Wow Productions that goes wonky from the start.

So many young performers seem to think going buck wild onstage equates to maximum effort. But that confuses activity with artistry. Fool for Love's crazy couple, May and Eddie, do a 75-minute push-pull of physical passion and revulsion, but that doesn't mean the actors playing them have to slam the doors of that motel room every time or stomp around like deranged clog dancers.

Stan Denman and Steven Pounders bring a light touch to the darkly funny drama The Unseen at WaterTower's Out of the Loop Festival.
Stan Denman and Steven Pounders bring a light touch to the darkly funny drama The Unseen at WaterTower's Out of the Loop Festival.

Details

Fool for Love continues through March 29 at the Black Box Theatre, Hampton-Illinois Library, Oak Cliff. Order tickets at www.foolforlovedallas.com. (No phone orders.)

Rum and Vodka, 5 p.m., March 15; and 2 p.m., March 16 at the Out of the Loop Festival, WaterTower Theatre, Addison. Call 972-450-6232.

The Unseen, 8 p.m., March 15, at the Out of the Loop Festival, WaterTower Theatre, Addison. Call 972-450-6232.

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Playing May, brunet beauty Haven Powers tosses her shiny hair like she's auditioning for America's Next Top Model. She's a hot histrionic mess, hitting one flat note after another. Her unrefined diction has her say "nee-ow" for "now" and "kee-ant" for "can't."

As down-and-out rodeo type Eddie, Randal Scott is about as sexy as a cowpat. He yells his lines and misses all of Shepard's intentions for the character. He really should have learned how to throw Eddie's lariat, too, instead of swinging it around like a hula hoop.

Relegated to minor roles, but doing much better work, are Ken Long as "The Old Man," a ghostly father figure haunting May and Eddie, and Don Long as suitor Martin, the dim but decent dude who comes to call on May. Both Longs dare to keep their performances simple and quiet, while all around them their co-stars wrangle for bigger bites of the scenery.

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