WINDY CITY TIMES
by Mary Shen Barnidge
This article shared 877 times since Mon Aug 27, 2018
Playwright: Cody Lucas
At: The Agency Theater Collective at the Heartland Studio, 7016 N. Glenwood Ave. Tickets: $15 or pay-what-you-can; Wearetheagency.org 773-680-4596. Runs through: Sept. 15
You've got these three guys planning to rob a bank, see, but their plan is temporarily derailed by heavy rain and a dead battery in the getaway car, forcing them to take refuge in the kind of dingy Texas motor court where the rooms are so spartan as to resemble those in a monastery ( with a crucifix on the wall by way of decor ). In the absence of TV or radio to pass the time while avoiding the scrutiny of fellow lodgers, the would-be desperadoes are left to their own resources. When a friendly card game precipitates each one to name his favorite Western movie, the answers tell us immediately that this venture will not end well.
So is this a heist puzzle, a bunker drama, a men-in-groups sociological study, a John Ford morality fable, a Sergio Leone staring-contest, or a Sam Shepard ghost story? It only takes Cody Lucas a little over an hour to cobble together our expectations into a taut little thriller progressing with more twists and turns than a desert sidewinder, as we learnalong with the co-conspirators themselvesthe individual backstories leading them to embark on this risky proposition and the reasons behind the necessity of securing large quantities of money right away. ( Hint for playgoers contemplating a life of crime: Never initiate a project under expedient conditions, never attempt to improvise when stealing from coffers already fortified against invasion and always make sure you know who your allies are. )
This material, however well-crafted, could have emerged just another rats-in-a-jar writing-workshop exercise, featuring characters familiar from the Hollywood canon, if not for the intensely personalized performances of Guy Wicke, Joe Lino and author Lucas, delivered with the guidance of co-directors Cordie Nelson and Jack Schultz.
Fight director Hannah Tarr and weapons master Edward Karch ensure that the inevitable gunfire is firmly integrated into the dramatic action, Chas Mathieu's scenic design invokes stark flatlands and sun-baked stucco cells, and the close quarters in the Heartland studio are rendered even more claustrophobic by lighting designer Ellie Humphrys and sound designer Ryan Wiechmann's replication of an electrical storm so real as to completely erase our memory of a balmy summer evening on Glenwood Avenue during its tension-filled 65 minutes.
This article shared 877 times since Mon Aug 27, 2018
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