By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The setting is a Texaco station, circa 1953, somewhere off a dusty rural road on a summer afternoon. Slim (Stan Graner) and his new fill-up man, Frank (Donny Avery), are filling a sleepy afternoon with small talk about dreams and dead relatives until a mysterious hitchhiker (Shane Beeson) wanders off the highway. They follow him to the nearby café, where he engages the men and a waitress (Morgan Justiss) in odd conversation, with questions so personal that Slim begins to think he might be an alien, as in Roswell flying saucer alien. When the man reveals who he really is and where he's from, some panic erupts, followed by an ending that's unexpected, wildly romantic and wholly satisfying.
A little bit Outer Limits, a little bit David Lynch, Under a Texaco Canopy is the work of a skilled writer who types in a less-is-more style. Schave's dialogue is terse, edited down to what's necessary and nothing more, which allows the audience to play a lively game of mental fill-in-the-blank. Schave also goes nonlinear in his storytelling, taking what begins as a trip to Mayberry into the realm of the metaphysical.
Directed and designed by Larry Randolph, Texaco's cast is one of FIT's strongest. Graner and Avery have an easy Andy-and-Barney rhythm. Justiss, so good earlier this year in The Nibroc Trilogy at the Bath House, makes the underwritten waitress character into an ethereal (and very funny) presence. Beeson manages to be both abrasive and attractive as the frustrated "alien" visiting from another time and place.
Legally Blonde The Musical continues through August 2 at the Music Hall at Fair Park. Call 214-631-ARTS. The show moves to Fort Worth’s Bass Hall on August 4.
Under a Texaco Canopy continues through August 8 at the Festival of Independent Theatres, Bath House Cultural Center. Call 214-880-0202.
A play like this is a "think piece," a three-dimensional meditation on unseen dimensions of this world and others. Go see it.