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Late: A Cowboy Song
a Drama
by Sarah Ruhl

COMPANY : The Weird Sisters Theatre Project
VENUE : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
ID# 4592

SHOWING : July 21, 2014 - August 05, 2014



Music Director and Composer Daniel Hilton
Director Jaclyn Hofmann
Mary Kelly Criss
Red Christen C. Orr
Crick Jacob York
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Opaque Blue
by playgoer
Monday, August 4, 2014
Sarah Ruhl’s "Late: A Cowboy Song" intersperses cowboy songs with scenes in which Mary (Kelly Criss) is late (usually in terms of appointment time, but once in terms of her menstrual cycle). These two seemingly unrelated themes are joined by the character of Red (Christen C. Orr), a singing female cowboy from Pittsburgh with whom Mary becomes obsessed. Does it make sense? Not a whole lot. Is it metaphorical? A big YES.

Mary shares a birthday with Crick (Jacob York) and has been his girlfriend since second grade. Hence, they were fated to be together. When Mary finds her period is "late," they get married. The play shows their life from their living-together days to the apparent end of their marriage. Crick doesn’t want Mary lying to him, but she does repeatedly about her relationship with Red. He never lays a finger on her, but Mary seems to anticipate (and encourage?) violence every time she lies or comes home late. It’s clear that there’s love in their relationship, but also a huge disconnect.

It’s not clear what Mary did for a living before her marriage. The unemployed Crick becomes a museum guard when they get married. After he gets fired for touching a painting, it’s never clear how the finances of the family work. The nitty-gritty reality of life is only glanced upon from time to time. Mostly we have Crick pontificating poetically about the power of paintings and Mary focusing on her own completely separate concerns (clear soup and Red). There’s one sequence of holiday moments, capped by Mary telling her mother on the phone that she can’t remember the non-holiday moments. That snapshot effect of perception is echoed throughout the play.

Lee Maples’ set has realistic furniture for seating and stylized, rough-hewn boxes for other furniture, backed with sections of chain-link fence. This echoes the condition Mary and Crick have of being "on the fence" concerning the name for their child (a hermaphrodite surgically altered at birth to be female). Crick insists on the "normal" name of "Jill," while Mary is adamant that the child’s name is "Blue." The floor of the set is ringed by sky-blue against clouds, marking the path of Mary and her child at the end of the show, as she walks into the metaphorical sunset.

The technical aspects of the show are exemplary, including Rachel Frawley’s props, Daniel Hilton’s music and sound design, Beau Brown’s projected puppet design, and Annie York’s costumes. Jaclyn Hofmann’s direction gets great performances out of all the actors. There’s nothing wrong with the production except that it’s of a play that revels in its opacity. It’s an odd mixture of the metaphorical, the realistic, the poetic, and the mundane. I found it an intriguing journey at the start, but lost interest as the show continued and it became clear that there would not be a clear-cut, satisfying resolution. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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