“This was actually a difficult show to cast,” said director John Patterson. “There is quite a bit of humor built into the characters and the story, and it would be easy to simply cast actors who would play up the clichéd, small-town humor. The stories are really quite compelling, and the characters have more depth than at first glance.”
Vietnam veterans are a recurring theme in McLure’s works; his Pvt. Wars, set in an army hospital, also featured three male actors. Lone Star tells the story of a returning war veteran who, over the course of an evening with his brother and friend, and after a case of beer, realizes that his life has unraveled. The friend, Cletis (portrayed by Jim Sheehan), is “the classic underdog,” laughed Patterson. “He makes me chuckle. He uses a slightly slurred, lisp-y voice which makes the character come to life.”
Gossip runs rampant in Laundry and Bourbon, which was conceived as a companion piece to Lone Star, but this time featuring our war veteran’s wife and two friends as they fold laundry, watch television and, of course, sip bourbon and Coke. Cletis’s social-climbing wife, Amy Lee (portrayed by Amy Golloby), appears in the second play, sporting a “patently false Georgia accent to sound more genteel.” The Cletis and Amy Lee characters “deliver the crux of the plot in their stories and, although we never see them onstage together, they are a match made in heaven…or in hell,” he says.
Both plays are set outdoors but in different settings, which posed logistical problems for the production designers. “We decided to make the sets movable and double-sided,” explained Patterson, who ended up building a house and a bar on wheels. “I believe the audience should be immediately transported into the story the moment they enter the theater.”
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Through March 22. The Company OnStage, 536 Westbury Square. For information, call 713-726-1219 or visit companyonstage.org. $18.
Sundays, 2 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Feb. 27. Continues through March 22, 2015