By James McLure; Directed by Pete McElligott
Produced by NINE Theatricals
Off Broadway, Play Revival
Ran through 5.13.17; Resumes 8.15.17
Triad Theater, 158 West 72nd Street
by Adrienne Urbanski on 5.15.17
Chris Loupos, Greg Pragel, and Matt de Rogatis in Lone Star.
BOTTOM LINE: A brief but intriguing look at the struggles of a Vietnam War veteran in Texas in the 1970s.
As so many produced plays center around the lives of wealthy New Yorkers, it is a nice change of pace to see the lives of blue-collar Texans in the 1970s being explored. Roy (Matt de Rogatis) is a Vietnam War veteran suffering from PTSD. He spends his day getting drunk behind the back of Angel’s bar while he pontificates to his brother Ray (Chris Loupos) on how to properly pair candy bars and popcorn with his favorite brand of Texan beer. Left driftless without the military, Roy leans on the only things he has left to prove his manhood: his prized pink Thunderbird, his wife, and the women he sleeps with on the side. As Roy imbibes beer after beer he laments to his brother about all of the sex he has had in his car (which he kindly allowed his brother to sniff afterwards), starting off with an anecdote about the first time he looked up a girl’s skirt as a teenager—an action that unlocked the place where Roy derives his power. However, as the play goes on we learn that the local nebbish, Cletis (Greg Pragel), has destroyed Roy’s adored car when he snuck in a test drive, and that Roy's wife may not have been as faithful to him as she has let on.
Given the Triad's limitations, the actors' talents compensate for such a small space and minimalist set. Although James McLure's characters are somewhat one-dimensional, the actors do their best to add believability and emotional complexity. Matt de Rogatis intelligently embodies Roy's pain—that of a man used to power and dominance now reduced to a state of vulnerability and listlessness. Roy's brother Ray is the lesser of the two, forever looking up to his brother's greater life experience. Cletis is the most laughable of the three, a slight man who is fodder for most of Roy and Ray's jokes, due to his lack of sexual knowledge and skill. While Roy boasts freely of his sexual exploits, Cletis timidly admits to having to look at a diagram in a book to understand the female anatomy. At a run time of approximately an hour, Lone Star is a slight work with deeper meaning beneath its deceitfully superficial humor, as it raises some questions about masculinity and pride.
Preceding the production is an endearing hour-long opener of live music performed by actors Jillian Geurts and Mollie Downes, which compensates for the brevity of the play (on Broadway, Lone Star was paired with Pvt. Wars, another one-act by McLure). Overall, both the cast and the opening act show endearing enthusiasm that make it immensely likable to watch them.
(Lone Star played at the Triad Theater, 158 West 72nd Street, through May 13, 2017. The running time is 2 hours with an intermission. Performances resume August 15-29, 2017, on Tuesdays at 9. Tickets are $25 with a two-drink minimum. For more information visit drinkbeerraisehell.com.)
Lone Star is by James McLure. Directed by Pete McElligott. Stage Manager is John Constantine.
The cast is Matt de Rogatis, Chris Loupos, and Greg Pragel. The musicians are Jillian Geurts and Mollie Downes.