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LETTERS TO EDITOR
There's certainly a compelling drama lurking in this family tragedy that recounts the events leading to an inexplicable murder witnessed by the victim's children and then attempts to put that violent act into context and show those children's struggle to recover -- the boy through his Wild West fantasy life as a young gunslinger helping his hero Cowboy Bob (Tom Wiggin) hunt down a villain much like his father Eddie (Jesse Lenat), the girl, Dallas (Annie Parisse), through a love affair with a wise and caring Lesbian (Caroline Bootle). Since music figures importantly enough for the theme song to be used as the title, it would be more accurate to classify this as a play with music.
I wish I could tell you that Texakarna Waltz made me want to waltz right to my computer to sing its praises. Unfortuantely, it isn't as provocative and theatrically adventurous as it sounds. There's nothing to complain about in Allison Narver's direction or the nine actors' grasp of their frontier-sized characters. Michael Brown has created a simple yet versatile weathered wood background, with two sections that conveniently slide open -- the lower door to reveal Eddie in the electric chair that will end his life and the upper for glimpses of the Cowboy Bob Band during its radio heyday, and the ghost of Emma pleading with her helpless son to avenge her. As needed, Brown, who also does the lighting, turns that back panel into a skyscape. Louisa Thompson's costumes are also just fine.
The problem with Texarkana Waltz rests with Louis Broome's over-reaching script. His marriage of Wild West comedy and Elizabethan tragedy is a mishmash of ideas that smack more of every cliche in the book than any profound insights about life love, good and evil on the modern frontier. The lapses into Elizabethan verse are enough to make Shakespeare shiver in his grave. The music, also written by Broome, consits mostly of the title song, a Hank Williams derivative that is reprised with such aggressiveness that Broome seems to will you to "love it la dee da." I didn't. Instead, by the time, the show was over I was inclined to sum it up with a stanza of my own:
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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