Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Rd.*** (White Bear Theatre)

Posted: January 18, 2017 in Theatre

out-theatre-on-fried-meat-ridge-road-c-gavin-watson-6As the World continues to puzzle over what sort of people could possibly have voted for Donald Trump, American writer Keith Stevenson’s one-act play suggests five possible answers.

In the heart of West Virginia, rooms at the Mohican Arms motel are rented out long term to folk who might otherwise be associated with living in trailers. One such resident is JD (played by the writer), son of an Italian prostitute and a well-connected father; kind-hearted to a fault and a speaker of Latin, he is looking for a roommate. Mitch (Robert Moloney) arrives to fill the vacancy; he is homeless. having been kicked out by his girlfriend, and jobless, after being fired from his position at a company making plastic forks for Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, because he suffers from hyperhidrosis (sweaty hands). Quirky back stories play a big part and typify the strain of humour that runs through this comedy.

Simon Scullion’s set is a perfect realisation of a room, complete with untidy twin beds and a mini-bar, at the type of motel that most of us holidaying in the States would give one glance towards and drive by quickly. The potential roommates are intruded upon by cantankerous landlord Flip (Michael Wade), distraught, meth-smoking Marlene (Melanie Gray) and her drunken, unfaithful boyfriend Tommy (Dan Hildebrand). Naturally, Marlene is an artist and Tommy’s sideline is writing poetry. Anarchy ensues, eventually bringing gun-firing cops to the scene. There is a slight sense of sneering at an uncultured underclass, but well-judged performances make the characters seem real, however outrageous their antics become.

Director Harry Burton’s production has a boisterous energy that feeds off the characters’ unpredictability. If there is any serious point underlying the mayhem, it never becomes clear, but the play squeezes enough decent laughs into its 70 minutes to quell complaints about that.

Performance date: 18 January 2017

Photo: Gavin Watson

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