Review: NINE Theatricals presents LONE STAR

Review: NINE Theatricals presents LONE STAR
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Immediately before NINE Theatricals presents LONE STAR begins, Joe Battista and Jack O’Hara play music contemporary to the time of the play, the late 60s and early 70s. The music is performed with Texas barroom flavor and fervor. And thus the stage is set.

The scene of Lone Star is 1972, Maynard, Texas. Nostalgia permeates everything. In the backyard of Angel’s bar, Vietnam veteran Roy and his kid brother, Ray, are drinking beer and chattering about mostly nothing. Chris Loupos does a wonderful job portraying the adoring Ray, a foil to his brother, whose world is gradually collapsing.

Ray is trying to get Roy, caught in a spiral of beer and junk food, to come back home. He wants his brother to get on with his life. Roy is clearly suffering, and that sense of suffering, expressed vividly by Matt de Rogatis, offsets the character’s sometimes overwhelming alpha male macho. He is a big personality, but infinitely relatable.

Roy ritually comes back to the backyard of Angel’s bar every night, as he envisioned while stationed in the military. In the chatter, in the interplay of the brothers, we see that Roy is struggling to regain his life after a two-year stint in the military, but cannot seem to move beyond the glories of his past. There doesn’t appear to be a life-after-war for Roy. His proudest possession — a 1959 Pink Thunderbird — also in the process of collapsing as the play unfolds, symbolizes Roy’s past.

James McLure wrote this superb, underrated one act play with three characters in 1979, as America was still in the shadow of Vietnam. Under the smart direction of Pete McElligot the play achieves another life in the age of Trump. McLure’s challenging ear for authentic dialogue of that time and of that place is met and mastered by all three performers.

It is surprising to think that NINE Theatricals presents LONE STAR at the Triad is only the second revival of the play since the 1979 production. “It was very well received and so that summer a production of Lone Star successfully moved to Broadway and ran for 69 performances at the Century Theatre,” Matt de Rogatis, who plays the central character Roy Caulder emailed The Huff Post in May. “I think James McLure is a very underrated playwright who has a huge following out west but maybe never garnered the attention he deserved with New York audiences.”

The pace of the play is brisk but never forced. In the course a little less than an hour, the players run the gauntlet of human emotions, from the nostalgic to the comic. Cletis, played with hilarity by Greg Pragel, deserves special mention. His character brings levity to an otherwise pretty heavy narrative. Although the majority of the play deals with the baggage of Roy, the play ends on a hopeful note. What happens to the two brothers after the play ends? You will only know if you invest the time in this wonderful and worthwhile play.

Lone Star closes it's run this Tuesday August 29th at 9pm at The Triad Theater 158 West 72nd Street in New York City. To learn more about the show and to purchase tickets, Visit Enter promo code THUNDERBIRD at checkout for a discount. The Triad has a two-drink minimum.

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