|Tent City, March 1993|
Playwright: Susan Hayden
Director: Allan Vint
Lucky Davis .... Tom Bower
Vaughn Hoover .... Arliss Howard
Estelle del Monte ... O-Lan Jones
(Met Theatre, Hollywood; 99 seats; $ 7.50 top)
by Christopher Meeks
The Met Theatre presents a drama in one act by Susan Hayden; produced by Jasper Collins, Brenda Smith; directed by Allan Vint; associate producers: Lorette Moreno, Marion Sandberg, Michael T. Weiss.
"Tent City" concerns three nothing people who essentially do nothing. In a stab at Chekhovian realism, the play peeks in on the lives of twotraveling tent show "artists" and a hanger-on who contemplate doing something someday. What one gets are three dynamic performers struggling in a vacuum.
Lucky Davis (Tom Bower), a magician and paraplegic, rolls his wheelchair and roadside philosophy over to the trailer of Estelle del Monte (O-Lan Jones), a coquettish singer and guitarist whose hourglass shape provides most of her songs' interest. She's hung up on her ex-beau Vaughn (Arliss Howard), who has just appeared after a long absence.
Even after Estelle recognizes that Vaughn's "illusion is more attractive" than he is, she does not change. Neither she nor Vaughn give any purpose or drive to their lives, as if they have all the time in the world to waste. Lucky tries to show them otherwise, but he too makes no moves to go on.
When the end -- a blip of an anti-climax -- arrives, the audience has to ponder whether it's over or just intermission. The best clue is the actors' appearing to take bows.
Playwright Susan Hayden clearly did not set out to present a narrative with plot. Mood and atmosphere are more important, and at that she and director Alan Vint mostly succeed.
Jones slinks around in a slip and robe and a two-tone voice like a refugee from "A Streetcar Named Desire." Howard brings humor to an otherwise bleak exegesis.
Bower as Lucky lends likability, and has some lovely lines. "By the time you understand anything, it's over," says Lucky. But bouquets of lines do not a play make.
Sets, James Eric; lighting, David Joseph; sound, James (Jim Bob) Campbell. Opened March 4, 1993; reviewed March 6; runs through March 20.
Variety, date in print: Tue., Mar. 16, 1993
From Ms Hayden's website:
First produced at the Met Theatre in 1993. Story involves a singer in a traveling carnival, caught in a love triangle with a drifter/cowboy and a paraplegic magician. It is about the search for home and reconciling one's past.