Don’t miss Uptown’s insanely funny Toxic Avenger

toxic1Melvin Ferd III is something of a nebbish, as if his name wasn’t clue enough. He’s harassed and attacked by bullies. His mother does nothing but criticize. Even his best friend, a blind girl named Sarah who works at the library in dystopian Tromaville, New Jersey, isn’t interested in him romantically. When he confronts Mayor Babs Belgoody with dumping toxic waste, she sics her goons, who drop him in a barrel of green, gooey toxic waste and leave him for dead. And thus is born: The Toxic Avenger, the morally ambiguous and perhaps ugliest antihero since The Incredible Hulk or The Thing.

Ironically, Melvin’s transfiguration enables him to win Sarah’s heart, when he saves her from rape and perhaps even death. He can easily defend himself and wreak revenge on those who made him miserable, his ghastly reaction to the chemical poison soup is all to the good. The only downside is, he’s beyond repugnant. He roars like a dinosaur. He would scare a javelina. But he’s also able to pursue the villains with aplomb, and Sarah is smitten with him. However, Sarah keeps insisting on feeling “Toxie’s” face, and Mayor Babs has discovered his one “kryptonite,” so there’s certainly no guarantee of a happy ending.

Created by Joe DiPietro (Book and Lyrics) and David Bryan (Music and Lyrics) and inspired by a Marvel comic book hero, The Toxic Avenger Musical is a marvelously perverse, crass and vile comedy that is very clever and hilariously cynical. You could suggest that certain comic book heroes experience a triggering event that unleashes their shadow side (id) say, like Bruce Wayne becoming Batman, but even The Dark Knight has a code of honor. When Melvin turns into The Toxic Avenger he revels in tearing off limbs and decapitating those who annoy him. He even plays the drums with a couple of disarticulated arms. None of the characters are especially noble (Sarah’s OK) but it’s clear that Melvin’s advantage comes when he embraces his basest instincts. When Melvin’s mother sings to convince Sarah to reconcile with “Toxie” she explains that (in one way or another) “All Men Are Freaks.” The other women eagerly agree.

Along about 1975-1976 the premiere of Saturday Night Live convinced a lot of people that humor and tastelessness were not mutually exclusive. Of course this has always been true. If you know what you’re doing, and you’re talented, you can make your own rules. The problem with this “revelation” was that suddenly everyone thought they could pull it off, competent or not. So we subsequently wound up with a lot of wretched “comedies” that would make Charles Manson seem like a laugh-riot.

The difference is that DiPietro and Bryan are brilliant and they know how to create an organic, buoyant narrative, consistent in demeanor. What they have accomplished is not at all easy (and with the help of Toxic’s phenomenal, frantic, acrobatic cast) have managed a spoof rich in subtext and audacity. The Toxic Avenger Musical lolls in its excessive degeneracy. It’s so, so, so bad and deranged and wrong, wrong, deliciously wrong. And it’s funny as hell. Closing weekend guys, hurry over.

Uptown Players present The Toxic Avenger Musical closing this Sunday, September 11th, 2016. Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Boulevard, Dallas, Texas 75219. 214-219-2718.

Onstage in Bedford’s Virginia Woolf, outageous, rollicking black comedy

vwoolf1Arguably, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is one of Edward Albee’s most (if not the most) accessible plays, at least on its face. A late night “party” of four in which George’s vicious, castrating wife Martha invites a new faculty couple over for a few drinks, turns into an all-night dog fight, barely concealed by the veneer of polite behavior. Set in the midst of New England Academia, at an Ivy League University, Virginia Woolf sends Nick, a new Biology teacher, and his mousey wife Honey (Robin Clayton) into the merciless lair of George and Martha. Martha and George are a middle-aged couple grown far too comfortable with thrashing one another, while Nick is the Adonis of the Biology Department, intelligent but ultimately shallow. The younger couple (well, Nick, actually) makes the mistake of confusing George and Martha’s sparring for harmless banter. George is in love with his own pontificating and rhetoric, and Martha has a kind of tough dame charm, but the vitriolic pair are just warming up.

George (and Albee) make much of Nick’s godlike beauty and background in Biology to address the idea of eugenics, though that word is never used. Just as true today as it was in 1962, exquisite, ageless beauty eclipses everything else. You can lack talent, experience, depth, even charm, but if you’re gorgeous the world will build you a marble temple. No one is more painfully aware of this than George, who hints (none too subtly) at a comparison between Nick’s Aryan appeal and the Nazi thirst for creating a master race. Gradually, George uncovers Nick’s utter lack of character and waits for his opportunity to go for Nick’s jugular. To be fair, Nick (Brandon Loera) dismisses George’s attempts at man-bonding pretty early on.

Martha (Rose Ann Holman) is the daughter of the University President, and though she may be 50 + and zaftig, she is still voluptuous and attractive. What Albee describes as the “earth mother.” Because no man, including George, could ever live up to the pressure of being married to the President’s daughter, she and her dad treat him with contempt and nasty mockery. Her flirtations with Nick are not remotely subtle, and she simply assumes that wife Honey is too dim to pick up on it. Throughout the evening Martha takes sadistic digs at George’s self-esteem, gleefully berating him for his countless failures and lack of pride. Martha is shameless and audacious, goading George with no sense of proportion or decency.

Edward Albee has always basked in his extravagance of language, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? aside from being a detailed depiction of a long-married couple, feeding off each other’s humiliation, is a critique of vapid American values. George (Seth Johnston) a brilliant, witty, Ph.D. is threatened by a Biology teacher simply because he’s handsome and virile. As they explain to Nick the weasel, “You’re either a Stud or a Houseboy.” Nothing in-between. You’d certainly think that in an institute of higher learning, looks would count for very little, but injecting Nick into the mix only throws George and Martha’s wretched cosmos into further chaos. Why does George stay with Martha? Why do Nick and Honey continue to endure this succession of degrading blows until the sun comes up? Why does Martha despise George for his tenderness?

The cast is brave, adept, dogged, heroic, deeply involved. Like The Lion in Winter, and August, Osage County, this content is exhausting under the best of conditions. The two key roles were replaced a week before opening, through no one’s fault. These things happen. So all this means that yes, there are a few problems, though none of them fatal. One rarely sees Virginia Woolf staged (at least around here) because frankly, it’s like trying to land Moby Dick with a fishing pole. Even if you do everything right. Albee indulges his eccentricities like nobody else (genius is allowed, I suppose) and the script is a constant hopscotch of tone and shtick. I have always admired Onstage for its daring, vision and professionalism. Bring a flask and go spend the evening at Onstage’s dazzling, breathtaking Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Onstage in Bedford presents Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Playing September 2nd-18th, 2016. 2819 Forest Ridge Drive, Bedford, TX 76021. (817) 354-6444.

“I dreamed a dream, that made me sad…” Locklear’s Dreamless at The Ochre House

dreamless1The Ochre House has a penchant for exploring malaise, rage, profound disappointment. Sometimes the venom eclipses other elements but that’s allright. They earn it. Written and directed by Justin Locklear, Dreamless is reminiscent of The Iceman Cometh in its consideration of living happily and how hoping for a better day affects that. In Eugene O’Neill’s Iceman, Hickey tries to disabuse his friends of their romanticized slant on the world, believing delusions only lead to pain. But, of course, pessimists and optimists share at least one idea, that their own personal version of life is closer to the truth. And Hickey only becomes awakened to his change of attitude when he discovers his wife has been unfaithful. So then the question becomes: is it better to risk trusting others or embrace a kind of practical skepticism?

Claire (French for clear) the hero of Dreamless, runs The Clean Plate Diner with her brother John, who came on to help after their father died. John deferred to the needs of his family over personal ambitions. The people who work at the diner are a sweet-natured bunch, the cook, waiter, bartender…..All the characters (except The Cat) wear sad clown makeup and more or less endure John’s sneering, nasty attitude. John is not such a tyrant that he won’t allow contradictions or criticism, but his resentment of anyone’s cheerfulness or warmth is oppressive and constant. While Claire is undeniably gentle and encouraging, John is a cantankerous snot, looking to extinguish as much joy as he possibly can. When he actually shows enough ethical backbone to acknowledge Claire’s extraordinary talent, it makes him (it seems) more disgruntled than ever. Unfortunately, such is her self-sacrificing inclination, that Claire won’t be happy if John isn’t. His pouting ruins it for her.

By removing and restoring the white greasepaint at strategic points in the narrative Locklear may be commenting on the ridiculous plight of indulging those who would involve us in their delusions. The strength of his script is its disambiguation between pessimism and actuality. Sometimes negativity can be just as illusory as daydreaming. Sometimes it can save us from the terror of leaving our comfort zone behind. The Ochre House very often inhabits a kind of gauzy fugue state that divides the abyss from a world brimming with diaphanous, radiant light. Dreamless stuck with me much, much longer (thank you, Ben) than I expected it to, and I recommend it highly with one proviso. Brother John is such a vile, vicious viper (despite all attempts to temper this notion) it was difficult for me to appreciate the rest. That being said, Dreamless is worth your time, and then some. The Cat (by Trey) is inspired and sublime.

The Ochre House presents Dreamless, playing August 20th-September 10th, 2016. 826 Exposition Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75226. 214-826-6273.

Last chance to see gleeful, ghoulish Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder at Winspear Opera

love&murder1First came the novel by Roy Horniman, then the classic comedy film: Kind Hearts and Coronets, starring Alec Guinness. Just recently this tongue-in-cheek, hilariously grim story has been adapted to musical theatre by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak. The result: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, is a marvelous spoof of Agatha Christie’s archetypal paradigm of killing off victims one by one, and a cynical, heartless jab at the vapid British aristocracy.

Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey) has just lost his devoted mother, when he is visited by (former nanny?) Miss Shingle, who divulges he is actually an heir to the D’Ysquith fortune, through a previous indiscretion between his mother and a handsome rogue. Only eight other cousins stand between Monty and the staggering sum, and Miss Shingle encourages Monty to pursue this. His initial queries into the matter are met (as you might expect) with arrogance and hostility. Along this twisted odyssey he wrestles with married, life long love, Sibella, and newfound romance with cousin Phoebe. He discovers that while some D’Ysquiths are terribly vile, others, though eccentric, are perfectly charming. He even finds true friendship with one cousin who’s hired him to work at his legal firm. How could poor, conflicted Monty even consider taking this man’s life?

The genius of A Gentleman’s Guide….is chiefly two-fold. First, with songs and sentiments like “I Don’t Understand the Poor” (in the fine tradition of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest) Freedman and Lutvak positively skewer the privileged class, and any sympathy whatsoever for the D’Ysquiths. Despite digression and mitigation. Ezekiel, a minister and the first cousin Monty meets, assumes he is a “climber” without knowing anything else about him, and says as much. Second, fate conspires to make each murder as easy as the next. As if cosmic justice were simply being handed to Monty with a map. Like Lolita’s Humbert Humbert, just when Monty’s sinister plan seems to be in jeopardy, events intervene to save his proverbial bacon.

You might say that A Gentleman’s Guide… is a grand example of nothing succeeding like excess. John Rapson plays all the D’Ysquiths with dexterity and panache. The content is imbued with wry unbuffered ghoulishness, many of the murders accomplished with cartoonish glee. The subtext is clearly on Monty’s side, with the perverse irony that karma is abetting a charming, admirable serial killer. We don’t wince at say, a decapitation because the victims are all crackpots or despotic. We laugh as we witness this succession of executions, so ridiculously easy they are emptied of all gravitas. My one, trivial criticism of this thoroughly pleasurable musical romp is a kind of backpedaling sop to morality just before the final curtain falls. But don’t let that ruin it for you. I certainly didn’t.

ATTPAC Broadway Series presents A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, playing August 16th-28th, 2016 at The Winspear Opera House. 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, Texas 75201. 214-880-0202.

WTT’s Two Guvnors saucy, silly rambunctious fun

guvnors1Strange title for a farce: One Man: Two Guvnors. It’s direct, but it doesn’t feel direct. Resourceful servant Frank (Francis) Henshall is working for two different men without either of them knowing, which keeps him (and us) on our toes. Frank maintains a cozy, ongoing aside with the audience, which feels fresh and spontaneous, along with lively musical interludes by four piece band, “The Quid.” It all has a relaxed, congenial demeanor, which serves the pervasive, deadpan silliness well. One never loses the sense of wonder and enigmatic alchemy that makes a particular comedy fizzy and sublime while others, with similar aims, will crash and burn. How can they all be so wildly divergent?

One Man: Two Guvnors (more or less) hangs on the plot, attorney Harry Dangle’s son, perpetually suffering Alan Dangle, cannot Marry Rachel Crabbe, when her previously believed missing fiance inconveniently returns. Frank must come to the rescue, though this happens less by design than fortuitous mishaps. Each character has their own shtick, Frank is the blue collar bloke who takes full advantage of the clueless privileged class, Rachel is optimistically dim, Alfie, the ancient, hobbling waiter who bounces back from countless blows, kicks and nasty falls. When Alan agonizes over the tumultuous injustices he must endure, with great style and vivid bathos, the other characters explain his behavior with three simple words: He’s an actor.

One Man: Two Guvnors is a bit of a mash-up not unlike The Marx Brothers, though without quite as much absurdity. Several different styles: banter, non-sequitur, slapstick, improbable cross-dressing….all blend seamlessly, often broken up by Frank’s conversation with playgoers. A million things, it seems, could go wrong with this chaotic melange, but somehow it doesn’t. There are definitely gags that wouldn’t have flown in less enlightened times, but happily, the ribald and ridiculous, they all come fast and bright and delightfully. Cracker-jack comic actor Brian Gonzales (as Frank) leads a goofy, stalwart and marvelously punchy cast. Go on, then. Treat yourself to a night of giggles and guffaws.

WaterTower Theatre presents: One Man: Two Guvnors, playing August 5th– 28th, 2016. 15650 Addison Road, Addison, Texas 75001. 972-450-6232.

Name your poison : Stage West’s Bootycandy is raw, brilliant satire

bootycandy2Robert O’Hara’s Bootycandy, currently playing at Stage West in Fort Worth, is fierce, dark, satire. Like David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago, it has very grim undercurrents, disguised as comedy of manners. Making the trek to cowtown exhausts me, but I wince to think I might have missed one of the most powerful, chilling, sardonic shows I have ever experienced, period. It lulls you with the quaint humor of queer sexuality as it’s perceived in Afro-American culture. Yes (just as in white culture) much of the contempt our hero, Sutter, is exposed to, comes from ignorance. And on its face it’s funny. But the longer and harder and closer you look, the more poisonous it feels. As if Sutter, cool, genuine, sophisticated, is being gradually slipped strychnine. O’Hara satiates us with the candy of hilarity, while delivering his rabbit punches with stealth.

Divided into two acts of short episodes, Bootycandy begins with young Sutter asking mama some frank, but earnest questions about sex. Mama promptly freaks out. Later, when an older man (possibly a pedophile) starts following Sutter home, he relates the predicament (not for the first time) to his mother and stepfather. Like many pedophiles, the man senses Sutter’s hunger for warmth and nurturing. Sutter’s parents respond by blaming him (though not in so many words) implying he must have brought this on himself, by his lack of butch pursuits and virile demeanor. It’s laughable, and horribly, horribly sad. In the second act, Sutter and Larry, another gay friend, cruise a blue collar white guy named Clint, who otherwise passes for straight. There is something heartbreaking about Clint, and deliberately, vaguely sinister about Sutter and Larry’s approach to this transaction. O’Hara’s dialogue here is sparse and enigmatic.

At first Sutter’s calm, even temperament feels natural, almost a relief in the context of hysteria that engulfs him. Then you begin to wonder if he’s shut down. At the center of Bootycandy is an atrocity that’s hinted at, then only revealed in subplot involving a group of black playwrights. The result is ambiguity: has Sutter actually done these things, or deep in the midst of his shadows, only reflect on them? In the narrative we are given, can we infer that Sutter was molested as a boy, degraded by other white men he’s slept with? We can only speculate. Though it’s safe to conclude that we are carefully given certain details for a reason, and Sutter’s “pathology” did not grow in a vacuum. Also safe, I think, to wonder if the adults responsible for him (with the exception of Grandma) have ultimately failed him. O’Hara could have titled this play: Elegy for Sutter’s Soul.

Some shows shouldn’t be missed.

Bootycandy plays Stage West from August 11th-September 11th, 2016. 821 West Vickery Blvd, Fort Worth, Texas 76104. 817-784-9378. www.

Beauty and the Beast : T3’s The Novelist

novelist2Theresa Rebeck’s The Novelist is a beguiling and (not unexpectedly?) fairly literary drama. Metaphor overlaps with metaphor, delicate butterflies in shadow boxes, Frank, one son who cannot finish sentences, yet brings statues pregnant with implication, Ethan, the other, cannot tell he is turning into his father. If anything Rebeck spells the subtext out a bit too clearly, but The Novelist is certainly absorbing and wise without ever turning cynical. At least not towards anyone who doesn’t warrant it.

Perhaps it’s no different in other parts of the world, but many Americans heap adulation upon anyone who is very, very successful. Paul, the title character, while not exactly the vox populi, has been vetted by the critics. Like Picasso, Hitchcock and Faulkner he is indulged in his despicable behavior, perhaps because the rest believe he inhabits the realm of immortals. Like Mount Olympus? Paul is not just a cranky, insufferable curmudgeon, he’s a schmuck that enjoys being a schmuck. When Sophie, his new assistant, confronts him on his toxic behavior, the rest of the family rushes to his defense. Though, thankfully, without admonishing Sophie.

If this weren’t bad enough, the evidence that he’s plagiarizing the work of female consorts (including his wife) steadily mounts. (Remember the Jerzy Konsinski controversy?) He comes on to Sophie without being a complete oaf, but it’s obvious he’s so used to getting what he wants from the awestruck and self-effacing, that chutzpah just comes to him naturally. When Sophie breaks the spell at the same time Laurie returns to New York without Ethan, Rebeck’s thematic rhyming becomes even clearer, and the irony that Ethan has unwittingly accepted the torch from his father.

The most salient epiphany of The Novelist is the sad revelation that artists who create the most spiritually compelling work are often not remotely admirable. The risk of this content is lapsing into familial melodrama. Rebeck mostly carries this off, though it’s a perilous endeavor, dancing all around an issue without reaching the audience’s conclusions for them. I would be remiss however, if I didn’t say that The Novelist has much beauty, incision and humanity to recommend it, not the least of which comes from the meticulous cast.

The Novelist plays Theatre 3 from August 4th-28th, 2016. 2800 Routh Street, Suite 168, Dallas, Texas 75201. 214-871-3300.

LCT’s Company a jovial, witty haymaker

company1A somewhat cynical (if good-humored) commentary on the institution of marriage, Company is a sophisticated, sly, subversive musical comedy by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and George Furth (book) that premiered in 1970 and forever changed the way we think about the genre. With no plot to speak of, and no trackable timeline, it’s more conceptual than narrative, the subject being the predicament of Bobby. We could speculate about the “message.” Perhaps the great quote by Joan Didion, “Anything worth having has it’s price,” or the secret to any mature relationship is compromise, but we have to wonder if the quizzical ending logically follows from what came before, or if it was somehow, fudged. Whatever flaws Company may have, though, are trivial. It continues to be, 46 years later, compelling, breathtaking, sharp and undeniably entertaining. With a subtext lurking like a feisty schnauzer. Many songs have an angry undercurrent, The Ladies Who Lunch is really furious, Barcelona may be one of the saddest songs ever written, and Being Alive is tortured and ambivalent.

Bobby, it might seem, has found the perfect balance. A gathering of spontaneous, frank friendships composed solely of married couples to nurture him, while he juggles three (that we know of) girlfriends. Whether intuitively or by skill, Bobby is the impeccable friend: the soul of tact, emotionally available, discreet and non-judgmental. His social skills are beyond reproach. His quandary is while he may simply be delaying that trip to the altar, his experience of marriage (external though it may be) leaves much to be desired. It doesn’t seem to be working all that well for his friends, so what is there, really, to recommend it? Even if we consider the cultural changes that have occurred since Company’s inception, these questions are still pointed and troubling. Part of Sondheim’s genius is undercutting even peppy songs with deprecating insight. Before the last curtain falls, Bobby concludes that it’s impossible to have depth of intimacy without pain. Not untrue, but, especially considering the ambiguous ending, hardly a remedy for the complexity of this show.

Lakeside Community Theatre and director Benjamin Keegan Arnold, has taken on a considerable project with Company, a demanding, frantic, deceptively emotional piece. One senses that that Arnold is buffering content a bit, but still, he handles it with confidence and aplomb. The cast is ebullient, clever, versatile and poised. Company is grand, exhilarating and unforgettable.

Lakeside Community Theatre presents: Company playing August 5th-September 3rd, 2016. 6303 Main Street, The Colony, Texas, 75056. (214) 801-4869.

L.I.P. Service’s Trainspotting wants to wolf you down. And you’ll love it.

train1Rarely have I seen a show with such bonejolting, abyss swimming, heart shredding velocity as L.I.P. Service’s Trainspotting at the The Rudy Seppy Studio in Irving. Adapted from Irvine Welsh’s novel by Harry Gibson, it reveals the lives of Mark Renton, et al: disaffected Scottish heroin addicts who kill the pain of despair and seething anger with mindless promiscuity and drug abuse. If not teenagers, they are not much older. This is thwarted eruption and anarchy with maybe the slightest whisper of irony or relief. Sex undercut by the shame of dirty bedsheets is metaphor for Trainspotting: kids who fuck with fierce indifference but worry about ass stains. Mark lives by impulse, but still seems to be the only one amongst his friends (Tommy, Simon, Lizzie, Allison, Franco, and “Mother Superior” a drag nun) not completely numb to their dwindling conscience. When Tommy begs Mark to help him try smack, he really tries to stop him, but Tommy, it seems, is bent on urgent ruin.

No words like degeneracy or decadence seem accurate, as it all feels so dank and pathological. Devoid of pleasure. There’s maybe a tingle of dirty, flagrant shtupping, but it all melts into the chaotic, wretched mural. Mark dives into a nasty loo for a couple of opiate suppositories he lost track of, Allison takes another hit of smack to forget the baby who expired from her neglect in the first place. Welsh and Gibson achieve a dodgy balance in which harrowing, catastrophic events still allow us to peer at the diminishing humanity the kids seem so desperate to suffocate. Like the thieves, beggars and whores of The Threepenny Opera, they are vindictive, poisonous, subversive, their only respite from society’s degradation and apathy. And we do not blame them a single bit.

Trainspotting has the power of the undiluted, the unbuffered, the authentic. The characters are so defiant in their grubby, sardonic soullessness, we can’t help but respect them. They never ask for our pity, or even sympathy, that ship sailed long before the lights went down. This astonishing cast (Dustin Simington, Jason Robert Villareal, Conner Wedgeworth, Caleb J. Pieterse, Lauren Mishoe, Jad Brennon Saxton, Erica Larsen, R. Andrew Aguilar, JL Sunshine, Leslie Boren, Steve Cave) is utterly fearless and submerged in this anatomy of a clusterfuck/trainwreck. They wield dialogue like rusty scalpels. They french kiss you with strychnine. They shoot horse like they are making love to seraphim. Trainspotting is a profoundly unsettling mix of contempt, damage and aching, disconsolate loss. When they deliver a snarling, ferocious finale of Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life, you can just feel the waves of blind rage throbbing. Trainspotting is glorious, uncompromising, remarkable theatre.

Trainspotting plays August 4th-20th, 2016. The Rudy Seppy Studio, 2333 West Rochelle Road, Irving, Texas, 75062. 817-689-6461.

Beautiful dreamers: Deferred Action at DTC

defer1Javier Mejia was brought to America when still a baby, by his mother who was fleeing the atrocities of war. Now he belongs to the marginalized “Dreamers.” Raised as a law-abiding American and contributing member of society, he is caught between the raging politics that refuses to validate him as a bona fide citizen, or deport him as an illegal alien. A policy defined as “deferred action.” Society benefits from his presence, but he is denied the privileges any other valuable American could take for granted. When Javier accidentally finds himself perceived by the Latino community as a symbol, a figurehead for this grievance and cause, he is faced with a crucial decision. Though it may not necessarily be the one we’re expecting, he is overcome by the leverage he wields.

Other key characters include Javier’s grandmother (Abuela) fiancee (Ximena) and best friend (Robby). Also, Dale Jenkins, the perfect embodiment of the Texas politician: big on charm and long on harm. Deferred Action is a surprisingly subtle blend of humanity and skepticism. The shifting loyalties of political advocacy and manipulation of community, solely for the sake of personal advancement. Though there is clearly more affection for some characters than others, it seems no one is immune from temptation or backpedaling. The end comes so abruptly (though not gratuitously) it takes a few minutes to regain our bearings.

Written by Lee Trull and David Lonzano, Deferred Action is a collaboration between Dallas Theater Center and Cara Mia Theatre Company. Though I have learned to be leery of such endeavors, it is a seamless piece of deeply moving, yet appropriately detached theatre and social commentary. The emotional moments are never excessive and the satire never quite crosses the line into cynicism. It eloquently articulates the predicament of a group being exploited and played in the cause of political expediency. It’s intelligent, funny, angry and pointed, but gratefully never feels didactic.

I regret that this review was posted so ridiculously late. My abject apologies.

Deferred Action played April 20th-May 16th, 2016, in ATTPAC’s Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. 2400 Flora Street @ Leonard Street, Dallas, Texas. 214-880-0202