Yankee Tavern

Steven Dietz’s mystery Yankee Tavern features a quartet of offbeat characters. There’s Adam, the bar owner; Janet, his pretty-as-a-picture fiancée; Ray, a regular at the bar who sees conspiracies around every corner; and Palmer, a mysterious stranger who seems to be a conman, a spy or a kook. The one thing the characters have in common is that they all have secrets.

“The play is a thriller, and you just don’t know which perspective is the truth,” says Stages Repertory Theatre’s Kenn McLaughlin, who directs the production. “It keeps shifting. As things are revealed about the characters, you have to go back and rethink things.” At its core, Tavern is about politics — the politics of love, the politics of a nation — and about when, if ever, it’s appropriate to conceal information. Is it ever okay for a husband to keep a secret from his wife, or for a government to keep information from its citizens? “This play looks at the cost of that. What’s the price you pay when you hold something back, either on a small scale or a large scale?”

Playwright Dietz, who worked with Laughlin to mount this regional premiere, keeps the audience guessing from beginning to end. “The last line pulls the rug completely out from under you,” says McLaughlin. “It leaves you sitting there thinking, ‘What?!’” 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Through April 10. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713-527-0123 or visit www.stagestheatre.com. $21 to $35.
Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: March 16. Continues through April 10, 2011

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Olivia Flores Alvarez