This is the story of the three Fail sisters, whose immigrant parents make it to America only to die in a car wreck in their new home town of Chicago.
Each of the daughters is loved, and lost, in turn by Mortimer Mortimer (yes, that's his name) played by David Matranga. Each daughter is distinctive and special and all three will be played by Courtney James (previously In the Next Room ... or the vibrator play along with Matranga and directed by Leslie Swackhamer).
In Failure: A Love Story by Philip Dawkins, (a playwright with an increasing buzz about him) the grandiose themes of love, death and the transient nature of life are tackled on a minimalist stage and in a way both practical and magical, according to Swackhamer, a professor at Sam Houston State who is once again returning to direct at Stages Repertory Theatre.
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Set in the late 1920s, the play includes music of the time ("Let Me Call You Sweetheart") as well as instruments rarely seen anymore (the Melodeon, the Harmonium). Despite the deaths, Swackhamer says the story is really about how people can embrace life. That and the fact that the people around you aren't going to be there forever.
The play runs anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours - they haven't quite narrowed that down yet; it'll depend in part on how many songs and dances they toss in, Swackhamer says. At a certain point all the actors turn into clocks, she says.
A gramophone is conjured up by a person blowing into a horn while a bright green scarf becomes a parrot. "How do I do a car wreck on stage with no car? How does somebody swim across Lake Michigan on stage? " she asks "This playwright trusts the audience and invites them to use their imagination."
Failure: A Love Story runs January 22 through February 16 at Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. For information call 713-527-0220 or visit stagestheatre.com. $19-$54.