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

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

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.



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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