By William Inge
Directed by Joshua Eads-Brown
Starring Rochelle Curbow Wheeler, Nathan Bartman
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL
Nothing like a blizzard to bring out the best and the worst in people. Tonight Mr. Inge lodges eight frustrated people in a snow-beset diner just outside of Kansas City. Ahead of them lay the lonely western plains and mountains, behind them the suspicious and claustrophobic mores of Eastern morality. Everyone is paired up, but not everyone is destined for happiness. Cherie (Wheeler) is a dance hall floozy who nearly married her 14 year old cousin, but now rambunctious rancher Bo (Bartman) is carrying her off to Montana. It might be abduction, it might be consensual, she just can’t make up her mind. Robust sheriff Masters (Jeff Hole) keeps the peace, but he can’t just baby sit Bo, there’s a blizzard and the phone lines are down and someone needs to deliver coffee. Diner owner Grace (Karen Hill) is missing her husband but finds a companionship from horny bus driver Carl (Kenny Jardine.) He claims he can walk for “hours and hours, it helps the stiffness.” We presume the stiffness is a side effect of driving long haul buses thought the prairie. Drunken yet loquacious Dr Lyman (Brett Carson) nearly seduces Grace’s assistant Elma (Anna Kraeger), but is stopped by the wave of gossip that precedes him. That leaves Virgil (K. Musselle), Bo’s sidekick and mentor. He offers good advice like “women like men with a tender side.” But when Bo and Cherie ride off, he’s the abandoned one, and only he knows why.
This classic study of personalities in a locked room is a delight, the cast is well matched and everyone hits their marks under Eads-Brown’s direction. Bo dominates the show, you really feel he’s about to punch out everyone on stage. Carson is florid and demonstrative and has one of those endlessly self refilling hip flasks that only TV boozers can buy. Hill looked desperately horny, although she does have the piece of mind to ask Carl to keep his mouth shut, some of the other bus drivers don’t appeal to her that much. Mr. Hole’s sheriff seemed like an earthy, hands on guy, he’ll beat the crap out of you when required, but then buy you a beer and a band aid. This is a nice, compact show, and a piece of classic American theatre that doesn’t get done often enough. Get there before the snow melts.
For more information, please visit http://www.breakthroughtheatre.com