Del Shores' Yellow Takes a Jaundiced View of Family Life at Uptown Players

There are great gay playwrights like Tennessee Williams whose plays have become classics because they deserved to be. There are good gay playwrights like Terrence McNally whose work is perceived as great because it's just a little better than a lot of other stuff out there. And there is Del Shores, a gay playwright writing for gay audiences whose hacky scripts have made him successful because theater companies like Uptown Players keep putting them on, regardless of how bad they are.

Uptown has done his others, including Southern Baptist Sissies, an overwrought journey into the misery of being a gay kid in the Bible Belt South. And now they're doing Yellow, another overwrought journey into the misery of being not just a gay kid in the Bible Belt South but a gay kid (played by Grant Bower) with a crush on a straight high school football star (Justin Duncan) who is dying of a mysterious liver ailment (thus the title).

Instead of finding a skilled director, Uptown has let Shores stage his own 180-minute script. Big mistake. Shores cast two lead actors who lack the talent to save the (probably beyond-saving) story: Jeff Plunk as the dying kid's football coach dad and Deborah Jones as the gay kid's Pentecostally hysterical mom. He then directed them to scream all their dialogue as though it's written in ALL CAPS. Scenes repeat themselves. The dying boy's parents have a 15-minute fight, shrieking and wailing about a Big Family Secret. Five minutes later they have the same argument at the same volume all over again.

Deborah Jones, Jeff Plunk and Kristin McCullough spend two and a half hours screaming in Uptown Players' Yellow.
Mike Morgan
Deborah Jones, Jeff Plunk and Kristin McCullough spend two and a half hours screaming in Uptown Players' Yellow.

Shores doesn't even seem to know what his play is about. Is it the parents' story or the kids'? The playwright gives us so little information about the dying son that we have no reason to care about him. (I wanted him to die faster so the screaming would stop.)

There is one good actress on the stage at Kalita Humphreys Theater: Dallas teenager Zoë Kerr, playing the jaundiced one's younger sister with the right balance of humor and angst.

Shuffle random pages of Glee, Friday Night Lights, House, My So-Called Life, Steel Magnolias and Carrie together and you get Yellow. De-liver us from this drivel.

 
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6 comments
dcarltono3
dcarltono3

Poor Elaine she can't help it, she's just bitter because Del Shores is something she will NEVER be......a successful playwright.

QNetter
QNetter

Why are you such a toxic slime-hurler? Have you ever added a thing to anyone's theater experience, or do you just love to read your own writing and pat yourself on your back for how clever you are. Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who have nothing to teach, review.

corway
corway

A reader disagreeing with a critic does not make the critic irrelevant.  This review is spot-on.  Good work, Ms. Liner.

myrtlejane
myrtlejane

Critics CRITICISE.  'Tis their job.  If Mr. Shores is upset by this review, he needs to sack up.

Rebecks
Rebecks

Elaine Liner continue to be a JOKE in Dallas.  The Observer should be ashamed that they continue to support someone with such vile hate for theatre and people.  She tears down, doesn't build up and should be put to press rest!

Lobotomygal
Lobotomygal

It's interesting that Elaine Liner actually used the word "Jaundiced" in her header as that's exactly how I picture her as I read her vitriolic attack on YELLOW.  I saw the play in Los Angeles and loved it and have been a long time fan of Shores who is a masterful writer. He nails the complex nature of families in crisis which, it seems, Ms Liner believes is overstated. Hm...she needs to spend more time hanging out with families..  And by the way, if she believes that Shores only writes for gay audiences, she's missed the point of his work. Get out of Dallas occasionally, girlfriend.  You need some perspective. And you might read some legitimate reviews and learn the difference between critic and witch. That wasn't a review, that was verbal projectile vomit..    Lobo (straight and a huge Shores fan).

 
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