Miller makes friends with Salvador Dali (Kenneth L. Kemp) and counts on drinking buddies George Brassai (Mitchell Parrack) and a sailor nicknamed Duke (Trenton Stephenson) to cover his tab at the bar. It's always nighttime in Cicerone's Paris and everyone's always thirsty.

All of this could be hot, heady stuff. But Cicerone (the word means "tour guide") is unfocused and in need of slash-and-burn editing. The play drips with gloom, even in situations where characters should be having a good time. "Henry finds sadness in the happiest of places," says a pompous would-be poet named Baron Adolpho Groltsch (played by Kevin Grammer). That much Posey nails perfectly.

Between scenes of heavy drinking and noisy arguments, accompanied by four musicians plunking stringed instruments just offstage, Henry sits alone, depressed, delivering pedantic speeches about the history of storytelling ("writing is the first magical act by man," he says) and the powerful pull of "primitive urges." Posey, peering out from behind black-rimmed spectacles, underplays these sequences nicely. They just go on far too long.

Chris Hury and Hassan El-Amin play Brooklyn dads who get down and dirty in Dallas Theater Center's God of Carnage.
Karen Almond
Chris Hury and Hassan El-Amin play Brooklyn dads who get down and dirty in Dallas Theater Center's God of Carnage.


God of Carnage continues through June 17 at Kalita Humphries Theater. Call 214-978-2879. Cicerone continues through June 9 at Ochre House. Call 214-826-6273.

The production looks good, though. Posey's shows, performed on a stage the size of a parking space, always use interesting design elements. In this one, costumes designed by Buitrón wrap the women in slinky 1930s dresses, sexy lace hosiery and face-framing cloche hats right for the period. The back wall of the stage has been painted by scenic artists Lucy Kirkman and Stephenson (the one who plays the sailor) with a pretty mural depicting the Café du Dôme. Henry's bed sits stage left next to trompe l'oeil windows flung open onto Paris streets.

If only there were more joie and less tristesse. In the lifeless second act, everyone talks and moves slower, like the play's engine is running out of gas. Early in the evening, nuzzling nubile girlfriend Nina, Henry muses mournfully that "youth is fleeting." Unfortunately, the play isn't. By the time Cicerone finally sputters to its end, you'll feel at least a decade older.

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Just a couple of corrections is needed. AC is working now, and the play is 2 hours long. Thanks to all who came out to see Cicerone. Opening Night rocked!