Capsule Reviews

Bridges This playwright didn't know when to stop. John Fullinwider wrote and stars in this talky, often turgid two-act drama about a crisis among Dallas' homeless in 1984. When the mayor (Bill Jenkins) decides to promote the city as an Olympic site, he and the police are bent on clearing out a settlement of squatters living under a downtown overpass. A well-known panhandler (David Jones Butler, who also directed) is murdered, bringing the issue into the media spotlight. The writer's biggest mistake is being so passionate about his subject that he tries to tell everything that really happened. (First rule of writing: Show don't tell.) And Fullinwider isn't much of an actor. Stepping back to allow someone else to play the lead role would have allowed him to see that there's at least an hour of unnecessary material. Only when the homeless characters gather at their campsite to shoot the bull and swap stories does this script begin to feel like it has a chance of becoming a real play. Through January 29 (Friday and Saturday only) at Teatro Dallas, 1331 Record Crossing, 214-319-8247. Reviewed this week. (Elaine Liner)

A Country Life David Mamet updated and rewrote Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya a decade ago. So did British theater great Brian Friel and others. But now Terry Martin, producing artistic director at Addison's WaterTower Theatre, tries his hand at it, and by golly, he's come up with a fine adaptation, shifting the action to rural Alabama 1922. R Bruce Elliott plays the lonely "Uncle Johnny," a 47-year-old bachelor living in a creaky farmhouse with his mother, his niece and a couple of servants. The country doctor, handsome Michael Adams (Mark Nutter), drops by often for a chat and a chew. Then come the interlopers, Professor Scott (Jerry Haynes) and his decades-younger new wife, Helen (Lydia Mackay), trying to lay claim to the homestead. Arguments erupt. Johnny and the good doctor both fall for Helen. It's a lovely production (also directed by Martin) unfolding on Randel Wright's hay-strewn set in a living room that suggests Old World charm reduced nearly to ruins. From Chekhov's four acts to a leisurely two (thank you, Mr. Martin), the nicely acted dramedy now comes to an end well before you feel like crying uncle. Through February 13 at WaterTower Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. 972-450-6232. Reviewed this week. (E.L.)

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