Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sordid Lives, Sam Bass Community Theatre, May 15 - June 6

Round Rock's Sam Bass Community Theatre isn't a formal repertory company. It's a circle of players, techs and supporters who gather for six or seven productions a year in the plain playing space that was formerly a Union Pacific depot

As you follow the Sam Bass season, you have the pleasure of seeing familiar faces reappear in new guises and disguises. They're friendly folk; the cast always gathers outside the theatre to greet their departing public. As I was driving home afterwards, there popped into my mind all unbidden the scene in which Hamlet expresses his pleasure at re-encountering the band of traveling players.

The final production of the season is set in Winters, Texas. That's a town so small that when I found it on Google Maps I had to back out twice before I could orient myself. Winters is smack dab in the middle of the state, in a largely blank area about 20 miles south of Abilene. The inhabitants of Winters might well be considered "people of the land." That is, echoing Mel Brooks' dialogue for Gene Wilder in Blazing Saddles: "You know -- morons."

The characters and incidents in Sordid Lives are ridiculous but very funny. We in the audience laugh with good heart at small-town dumbness, morality and immorality -- in fact, with a certain proprietary affection. We're in Texas and we know those stereotypes, folks who are the focus of many a joke.

This is a revenge play. Shores acknowledges that he grew up in the mercilessly parodied town of Winters.

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