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Woof Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Superstar NFL quarterback kills dog! Award-winning playwright Y York (who also wrote ...and L.A. Is Burning, another Main Street Theater world premiere) adapts the story of former Atlanta Falcon Michael Vick and transforms his criminal act into an ultimately sympathetic tale. Unlike Vick, who had been dog-baiting for years, York's fictional LJ Freeman (the charismatic Timothy Eric) goes gaga just once, but the fatal canine choking is filmed by a security camera and goes viral over YouTube. LJ's stellar career collapses; his marriage to Karen (Eva Laporte), a former Miss Alabama, teeters precariously; his hotshot lawyer (Brian H. Thornton) wiggles back into Karen's life wanting to revive their affair; his mom Ruby (Alice M. Gatling) refuses to hear anything negative, having pulled out all the TV cables and buried the phone in a drawer; his former elementary school science teacher, Mrs. Jones (Joyce Anastasia Murray), continues to inspire; and LJ's preteen, adoring daughter Jackie (Maya M. Wilson) eyes her newborn brother, who's suspiciously, awfully white, as threat and competition. Complications pile up, but nobody deals directly with LJ's heinous act, content instead to dance around it, along with every conflict York ignites: combustibles like interracial marriage and infidelity. Daughter Jackie wants everybody to look at the condemning video, but the adults have their heads planted firmly in the ground. Still, the play's a treasure chest for the deft Main Street ensemble, who, under skillful director Troy Scheid, find real heart and soul among the soap opera suds that York whips up. Eric, brimming with machismo, leads the way magnificently. Gatling, as LJ's mom Ruby, makes the most sense of anybody in the play and imbues this no-nonsense woman with deep intelligence and snappy wit, even though her character is constantly referred to by others as daft and loopy. She's the beating heart of York's drama, and Gatling savors every moment of her multilayered performance, as do we. Torn from the headlines, York's drama verges on movie-of-the-week, but the precise production and whiplash acting keep the play from going soft. "Love conquers all" is her message; let no dead dog put it asunder. Through October 9. 2540 Times Blvd. 713-524-6706. — DLG

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