Reviewed by Neal Weaver
Extended through May 14
Warning: The following contains what some may consider to be “spoilers”.
In James McClure’s one-act comedy, three men hang out in the parking lot at Angel’s Bar in Maynard Texas in 1981. Roy (Christopher Jordan) is a Vietnam vet. Before he went off to war, he was a kind of local hero, famous for his 1959 pink convertible Thunderbird and his way with women. Vietnam was the highlight of his life, but when he came home, his mother was senile, and all his old gang had died off, moved away, or disappeared. Now he just retreats to a parking lot, where he sits on a battered old car seat propped on cinder blocks, reliving his past, and reflecting on his fate. Ray (Christopher Parker) is Roy’s younger brother, whom Roy has mentored and bullied all his life. Physical problems kept him out of the war, and he seems to like it that way. He looks up to Roy, but not uncritically.
The third man is young Cletus (Brian Foyster), a naïve and slightly slow-witted guy who works in his father’s appliance store. Although he has always hero-worshipped Roy, he eventually becomes the bane of Roy’s existence. He’s always believed that if he’d had Roy’s pink Thunderbird, he could have been just like his hero. Longing to drive the car just once, he “borrows” the keys and takes it for a spin. But he loses control and drives the car head on into a huge cottonwood tree, with enough velocity to scatter the pieces all over the landscape.
Cletus is convinced that Roy will kill him when he learns about the car, and begs Ray to take the blame. Ray agrees, and breaks the news to Roy, who is devastated since the car was so much a part of his identity. But he forgives Ray because, after all, he is his brother.
Rather unaccountably, Ray then decides this is the moment to confess his protracted fling with Roy’s wife, Elizabeth while Roy was in Vietnam. So Roy must endure two blows to his battered ego.
McClure’s play doesn’t offer much in the way of plot, and derives its interest from the comedy provided by the characters. Director David Fofi has cast the piece well, making the most of its humor and providing a rich and funny evening. Jordan’s Roy is proud, ruefully amused in his outlook on life, and disillusioned. Parker’s Ray is more pragmatic and better equipped to weather life’s disappointments. And Foyster’s Cletus is a prize stick-in-the-mud, too dim to be aware of just how annoying he is to the people around him.
In the original off-Broadway production, the characters were played as considerably younger, making for a more volatile and dynamic show. Here, the men are older, more laid back and more resigned, giving the piece an elegiac flavor.
The set (designed by Jordan) is a grungy parking lot, littered with rusting auto parts — a veritable junk-yard of broken dreams.
Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; (323) 960-7724 or www.plays411.com/lonestar. Running time: one hour with no intermission.