By Zoe Yabrove
By Bree Davies
By Byron Graham
By Susan Froyd
By Josiah M. Hesse
By Bree Davies
By Susan Froyd
By Kate Gibbons
Parlour Song. At the beginning of Parlour Song, demolitions expert Ned is showing videos of his work to his neighbor, Dale, owner of a car wash. Dale is polite but uninterested; he's seen them many times before, though Ned seems to have forgotten showing them to him. But for the audience, the videos are fascinating: the balance between control and destruction, the way a building leans almost reluctantly into itself, slowly hollowing before exploding in a slow, beautiful, meditative ballet. This is also a fitting representation of what is happening within Ned's marriage to restless, indifferent Joy, and, in fact, to his entire life. Objects are disappearing from Joy and Ned's house, and Ned is trying to do everything he can think of to keep his wife. He enlists the help of Dale in an effort to lose weight. In one of the evening's funniest scenes, he listens to a sex-advice tape, learning how to deploy his tongue during oral sex. In most disintegrating-in-suburbia fiction, the protagonists dull their pain with sleeping pills and anti-depressants. Ned can't do that: His demolition contract requires that he never take drugs. So when Joy discovers pills, they turn out to be — pathetically — the Rogaine he's purchased to save his hair. There's a persistent undertone of menace that makes comparisons to Pinter inevitable, and a persistent sense of deracination, instability, change and the loss and deterioration caused by time's passing. Although this production is oddly uninvolving, it's still worth seeing because Butterworth's dialogue is so fiercely funny, and because it stars three of the best actors in the area. Presented by Paragon Theatre through October 29, 1387 South Santa Fe Drive, 303-914-6458, www.paragontheatre.org. Reviewed October 6.
Slow Dance With a Hot Pickup. WhileSlow Dance With a Hot Pickupisn't a rabblerouser, it's an engrossing show about real people in desperate circumstances, and it has its heart in the right place. A completely original work by John Pielmeier, who wroteAgnes of God, and composer Matty Selman, this Boulder's Dinner Theatre production is being presented as a workshop in preparation for a national tour, so it's still fluid. It's also a big risk for BDT, whose clientele tends to expect old chestnuts and family-friendly outings. The plot involves eight people competing in a radio contest: There's a shiny new truck in the middle of a car lot, and the contestant who can keep a hand on it the longest will win it. Like the wretched dancers in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, these people hang on for days, becoming more tired and quarrelsome by the hour — and also more concerned about each other and more empathetic. The contestants include a Vietnam vet; an Asian woman who wears a cowboy hat, wants to be a country singer and is secretive about her country of origin; an out-of-work ex-con; a tough-talking, hard-praying female auto mechanic; a young girl with a secret; a rather innocent teenage guy; a good-natured waitress; and a middle-aged man worn out with caring for his illness-ridden ex-wife. The off-stage voice of a sadistic radio announcer issues directives and makes arbitrary judgments. Twining together eight narratives isn't easy, and the script could use shaping; the music ranges from okay to excellent. The cast in this straightforward production is full of talent — both vocal and thespian — and the members rise brilliantly to the challenge of making ordinary people riveting. Presented by Boulder's Dinner Theatre through November 5, 5501 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-449-6000, www.bouldersdinnertheatre.com. Reviewed October 20.
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