By Susan Froyd
By Byron Graham
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davies
By Josiah M. Hesse
By Bree Davies
By Susan Froyd
By Kate Gibbons
The Road to Mecca.There's something about The Road to Meccathat reminds me of the plays of August Wilson. It has the same rich sense of place and culture, the same emotional complexity and the same kind of humanism. Except that where the emotional complexity in Wilson's ten-play cycle comes through the interactions of several characters, here all the themes and contradictions reside in the bosoms of only three lonely, puzzled people. The story is based on the life of South African artist Helen Martins, one of those eccentric, compulsive art-makers who draw all their inspiration from private visions and have no connection to the regular art world. Martins filled her garden with cement and glass sculptures of religious figures, camels and wise men, all facing east — along with mermaids, sphinxes and owls. She was mocked and ostracized by the Calvinist Afrikaners of New Bethesda, a tiny town in the arid, inhospitable region called the Great Karoo where she lived, but after her death, in 1976, her home became a museum that helped revitalize the area. Fugard is best known for his anti-Apartheid plays, but although he's at pains to provide a sense of Helen Martins's milieu — and the defiant politics of her younger friend, Elsa Barlow — his focus here is more on personal dynamics, as well as the plight of a free spirit in a rigid society. There's some preachiness to the script, and a bit too much rapturous carrying-on about the wonders of art and the mysteries of light. Director Nagle Jackson has given this Creede Repertory production a lot of telling and meticulous touches, but while the acting is good enough to carry the play, it isn't quite good enough to make it shimmer. Presented by the Creede Repertory Theatre at the Black Box Theater at the Arvada Center, through November 6, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada, 720-898-7200. Reviewed October 27.
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 wrote Agnes 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.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city