LIMELIGHT THEATRE REVIEW
DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM [email protected]
St. Augustine’s Limelight Theatre opened a unique, possibly a once-in-a-lifetime theatre experience on June 3, 2016 by using separate theatres to stage two one-act comedies, “Laundry & Bourbon” and “Lone Star. ” Texas playwright James McClure (1951-2011) was known for “The Day They Shot John Lennon” and “Wild Oats,” but these two companion pieces he wrote in the 1970s have been even more successful and are still frequently performed.
How it works: you will begin by seeing “Laundry & Bourbon,” which is about one hour long, on Limelight’s Matuza Main Stage. At intermission, you will enter the lobby where special treats are offered. Samples of bourbon punch are free (for those who want to try it) or if you really want to get into the mood, you will find bottles of Lone Star beer available at the refreshment stand.
Afterward, you will walk just a few steps to the Koger-Camache Studio Theatre for “Lone Star.” Seats are general admission and all the views are good in this intimate space.
The plays are set in 1975 in Maynard, Texas, a small town outside Dallas. “Laundry & Bourbon” takes place in the backyard of Elizabeth, played by Jennifer Latka. As Elizabeth does her laundry, she is joined by her best friend, the humorous and sassy Hattie, played by Cathy O’Brien. It’s hot and they drink straight bourbon while discussing past memories and present issues. But the main topic is Elizabeth’s husband Roy, for whom she displays a deep love and concern, as he is having a difficulties adjusting to civilian life after military service in Vietnam.
After a time, Amy Lee, portrayed by Linda Mignon, shows up, ostensibly to collect money for a church cause and help Elizabeth repair a broken air conditioner , but in reality, to gossip while flaunting her wealth and social position. Fueled with additional bourbon, true feelings begin to fly, as we learn that Amy married a man who has money but lacks maturity and charm. Humorous moments abound, and these three ladies are fine comic actors who are terrific in their roles.
The production is described as two one-act plays but it is really Roy’s story told in two parts. In “Lone Star,” we are outdoors in back of Angel’s bar, a low-life hangout with loud music. An old car seat is the only furniture amid the trash littered about. Here we meet Elizabeth’s husband Roy (marvelously portrayed by Steve Harden), his not overly-bright brother Ray (James Desmond), and Amy Lee’s diffident husband, Cletis (Matthew Whaley), who has idolized Roy since their schooldays together
The disheveled Roy is drinking, as he has been every day since he returned from Vietnam. Through a drunken haze, he proclaims that he loves his wife, his country and his 1959 pink Thunderbird convertible. One suspects that the car really comes first, as he relates the many sexcapades he has enjoyed in the back seat of his beloved automobile. He then begins bullying and browbeating Cletis and a major turning point in the play occurs soon after, although to say more would be a spoiler.
The three men, like the three women before them, give outstanding performances. We were pulling for Ray and Cletis, the two most likeable guys. However, we found Roy a sympathetic character as he related his wartime experiences. Even though he is a promiscuous, raging, shiftless, and violent drunk, he is also very vulnerable—and perhaps deserves better. Advisory: the language in Lone Star is strong and graphic.
“Laundry” was directed by Shelli Long, “Lone Star” was directed by Beth Lambert. The program does not list a scenic designer but we learned that the sets were conceived by the combined efforts of the two outstanding directors and Lighting Designer Tom Fallon. Both sets are perfectly designed to transport the audience to small-town Texas.
Production Crew: Beth Lambert, Director, Lone Star; Ryan Walker, Stage Manager, Lone Star; Shelli Long Director, Laundry & Bourbon; Izabella Unice , Stage Manager, Laundry & Bourbon; Miles Mosher, Sound Designer and Booth Operator; Tom Fallon, Lighting Design; Lorraine, Costumer; Maria Tolzmann, Sound Booth Operator.
These two shows cast actors who have appeared in many productions, at Limelight and a number of other local venues. The casting could not have been any better. Don’t miss it.
Limelight is located at 11 Old Mission Avenue in St. Augustine, Florida. The theatre has free parking. Call 904-825-1164 or visit limelight-theatre.org for additional information and reservations.