Broken Gears' The Hand Tempts the Fickle Finger of Fate

Plus: Shooting Star shines, and the Big Gay Dance Party that never ends.

Director Warner Jacobi has a couple of good actors in his cast. Allen Mathews exhibits a well-honed Ned Beatty bluster as a red-state politician/prosecutor trying to make political hay out of homophobia. Dick Monday, playing numerous roles, including the 16th president, is head-to-toe funny every minute he's visible. Some other members of the large ensemble, who will go nameless here, should investigate taking some acting classes.

The amateur status of Level Ground Arts is evident in the cardboard scenery, splotchy lighting and poor direction. Actors line up single file across the stage (always the sign of the non-pro theater troupe), and they frequently turn their backs and talk to the back wall.

Testing patience even further, the broad comedy too often lapses into heavy polemic speechifying. Valid points are made about intolerance and the rights of gays and ethnic minorities, but playwright Loeb is no Larry Kramer. He's not even Cosmo Kramer.

Jeff Swearingen and Joey Folsom, a couple of cut-ups in Broken Gears' bloody good drama The Hand.
Shance Ryan Brentham
Jeff Swearingen and Joey Folsom, a couple of cut-ups in Broken Gears' bloody good drama The Hand.

Details

The Hand continues through June 25 at Broken Gears Project Theatre. Call 214-443-0000. Shooting Star continues through June 26 at WaterTower Theatre, Addison. Call 972-450-6232. Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party continues through June 25 at Kim Dawson Theatre. Call 214-630-5491.

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Running just under three hours, Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party could cut half its dialogue and most of its dancing and be twice as funny. Four score and seven minutes' worth sounds just about right.

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