Recommended *** We all have our little jokes about Texas, The Lone Star State, and it’s inhabitants. This is a part of the country where beers and bourbon are far more important than the highway system or public transportation. I guess, when I entered the Oil Lamp Theater, that quaint little theater in downtown Glenview, I was not expecting what I got. The late James Mclure was a Texan. Yes, he moved to the East Coast/New York, but you can never change a Texan. He always will be remembered as such, a Texan, through and through.
Oil Lamp is a small theater company that is intimate in space and very audience friendly. I love the building and the location, but I am not always sold on the plays they select for presentation to their followers (I am finding that they have a great following). The choice of two one acts that relate to each other, “Laundry and Bourbon-Lone Star” may not have been one that I would have selected, but judging from the audience response, it was indeed accepted by them, so maybe the theater company is correct.
These are in fact, two separate plays! They are connected by references and the fact that the main female character in the first play, “Laundry and Bourbon” is the spouse of the main character in the second “Lone Star” (which refers to the state and the number one beer).
Directed by Elizabeth Lovelady, these two plays are powerful stories in and of themselves and do not need the other to survive. The first play is about three ladies in a small Texas town, Maynard Texas, back in 1975. It is a hot day (in Texas, that is an oxymoron). We are at the home of Elizabeth (Lexi Saunders) who is being visited by one of her friends, Hattie (Sara Heller). The ladies are enjoying their little talk of life and the town gossip when they are visited by Amy Lee (Lauren Lichtenstein), who has recently married the wealthiest man in town, a man that these other ladies grew up with, a true “nerd”.
The talk is about sex and life and the new game that is replacing Bridge, Mah Jong! Most of the North Shore ladies were very in to this as this is the game that is played in most of the North Shore restaurants every day of the week. This “act” is about an hour long and while there are some very funny moments, if one pays close attention, one can be “set-up” for the second act. This one deals with the husband of Elizabeth, Roy (deftly handled by Evan Johnson) and his relationship with his younger brother, Ray (Joe Boersma) and a school buddy, Cletis, who was called Skeeter( the “nerd” referred to played to perfection by Michael Dalberg). This is part of the connection between the two acts.
The second story, dealing with the brothers, is much deeper and has a far more serious theme. Lots of “things” come up about their lives, past and present as well as Roy’s true love, his 1959 Pink Thunderbird convertible. I preferred the second story to the first and may have prefered it being first. If so, the things that took place during the Laundry act may have had even more meaning.
If you have never been to the oil Lamp located at 1723 West Glenview Rd, just west of Route 43/Waukegan Road, you are in for a treat. You enter what appears to be a lobby/ lounge with a very long antique bar, where complimentary soft drinks are served (BYO for alcoholic beverages) along with nuts and candies and some of the best homemade cookies on the North Shore. Artistic Director, Keith Gerth, and his staff make you feel at home and the two hours that you spend there are definitely worth the trip to Glenview.
The actors they bring to their intimate stage, love what they do and it shows! While these are not true comedies or serious dramas, per se, there are funny moments in both and very realistic situations that will make you think about your own lives (at least a bit). There is some language and some situations that may cause discomfort in views about sexual encounters, but they are real and if you think back, may be very close to your own memories which have been put away as just that , past memories. While I did not love the two plays, I found the productions worthy of going to the theater to visit and a solid entertainment values.
Thursdays at 8 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $35 and includes soft drinks, snacks and cookies. They can be purchased by calling 847-834-0738 or online at www.oillamptheater.org
There is a FREE parking lot just west of the theater PLUS on the streets of Glenview.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Laundry and Bourbon”/”Lone Star”