Alcoholic hicks give onstage insights into life

By Allyson Simonton

The two one-act campaign plays, “Lone Star” and “Laundry and
Bourbon,” put on by the Cal Poly theatre department last weekend –
successfully gave a glimpse of small-town Texas that even city
folks could appreciate.

The style was just one of the things that made these plays
“really different from other plays on campus,” said Diana Landavde,
a fourth-year mechanical engineering student.

Beginning with a small stage in the cramped studio theatre,
where the audience sits close enough to see the actors’ pores, the
challenges continued with each play consisting of only three actors
apiece.

“I liked the studio setting,” said Yasmine Buenaseda, a
first-year computer science student. “I was so close to the actors
it made me feel as if I was there.”

The dark comedies dealt with several common themes: the
differences and similarities between men and women, the aftershocks
of war on those who stayed and those who went, and life in a small
town.

They were so funny that the serious, heavy parts were
unexpectedly powerful. They were slipped in rather than being built
up to, just like reality.

In the beginning of the first play, “Lone Star,” I was wondering
how to relate to and enjoy a story that centered around two drunken
hicks at a bar.

They were not even in the bar; they were hanging out behind the
bar telling tales. As the play went on it was clear there would be
no real character development, not much interaction with anyone
else, and lots of hick talk.

While the characters didn’t develop, my understanding of who
they were did. As in life, prejudice seemed less justified when the
back story unfolded.

Roy, the arrogant main character, is a man who returns from
fighting in Vietnam to find his life has changed. His friends have
all married, moved away or earned themselves several years in jail.
He is nostalgic, in a clingy sort of way, about his years as the
coolest guy in town.

Evan Wallace was dynamic as Roy. He made use of the whole stage,
clomping around in his cowboy boots. His comedic timing was
impeccable even with simple jokes such as, “Well at least we ain’t
in Oklahoma,” his response to any bad news.

His brother Ray, played by Mark Smith, was a perfect sidekick
for Roy. At first, his brother seems to walk all over him, but then
Ray starts to quietly assert himself. When they play Vietnam he
refuses to be shot, always finding a way around his brother’s bossy
rules.

Though his life gets more complicated as the night goes on, he
is still the more level-headed, content one of the two.

The pink 1959 Thunderbird convertible Roy worships is a clear
metaphor for his glory days. The action he got in it, the joy rides
with his best friend, and, again, the action he got in it were his
sweetest memories.

His car and his life were both fast. When he discovers his car
has been totaled, it reflects the end of that life.

In “Laundry and Bourbon,” the ladies, who were Roy’s wife, her
best friend, and a catty socialite, are getting drunk in the
afternoon. As they fold laundry, they reminisce about their younger
years. The silliness is tempered by the fact that Roy has not been
home in several days and by the astonishing announcement that his
wife, Elizabeth, is pregnant.

It is clear that Roy is too immature and self-centered to be a
good father, but it is reassuring that both he and Elizabeth admit
they are still very much in love.

Jennifer Johnson, who played Elizabeth, enjoyed the role of
faithful wife and good woman.

“This is the most fun show I’ve ever done. The cast is so
dedicated and we have a great director [Michael Kachingwe],”
Johnson said.

The hilarious, non-stop dialogue between the three Southern
women really made this play. The gossip flowed like honey with a
stinger in it.

Alcoholic hicks give onstage insights into life

Allen Chen

Alcoholic hicks give onstage insights into life

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