Laundry and Bourbon/ Lone Star | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Laundry and Bourbon/ Lone Star 

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LAUNDRY AND BOURBON and LONE STAR, OKRA Theatre, at Profiles Theatre. Each of James McLure's slice-of-Texas-life comic one-acts is a hearty appetizer, so together they almost make a meal. Lone Star, his quintessential good-ol'-boys-sittin'-around-drinkin' play, is a nearly perfect minuet for mutton heads, as soft-skulled brothers Ray and Roy exorcise their family demons on the back stoop of Angel's Bar. Skuttling in and out of the action is the officious Cletis--described by McLure as "a wide-eyed asshole"--who's in danger of being murdered after totaling Roy's prized 1959 pink Thunderbird convertible. In Laundry and Bourbon it's the good ol' girls' turn, as Roy's wife Elizabeth and her brassy friend Hattie gossip and commiserate on the front porch until Cletis's church-lady-cum-rattlesnake wife Amy Lee shows up to gloat over Roy's recent infidelity. Though McClure has a gift for lyrical caricature, it's countered by a nagging penchant for overstating the obvious.

Director Tracy Parks casts both plays with the same three male actors--a choice that seems perfectly natural considering the near indistinguishability between certain Texas women and drag queens. Kevin Austin is spectacular as both the perky pit viper Amy Lee and her obsequious husband Cletis, and he's nearly matched by the graceful Kelly Mantle as Hattie and Ray. In the pivotal roles of Elizabeth and Roy, Tim Davis seems a bit hesitant and unfocused, although Roy's occasional outbursts of rage are truly terrifying. There are no major revelations in this production, but it's a solid evening of theater.

--Justin Hayford

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