Night and Day: Wednesday, October 3, 2002
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Many of Tarrant Countyís college theater departments offer up their first productions of the semester this weekend, and they all seem to have gone small-town on us. Ah, Wilderness!, the only comedy written by Eugene OíNeill, is loosely based on the playwrightís boyhood in Connecticut and takes place during a July 4th picnic. The play doesnít reach the stature of OíNeillís tragedies, but itís pleasing and provided the playwright with a popular success. Itís playing at TCU. Texas Wesleyan, meanwhile, goes into the second and final weekend of Spoon River Anthology, a stage version of Edgar Lee Mastersí famed volume of poetry drawing the portraits of various Illinois citizens through their gravestone epitaphs. Meanwhile, Texas Womanís University begins its season with James Leonardís The Diviners. Set in Indiana during the Great Depression, the play is about a man whoís disenchanted with conventional religious practice and sets off to find his own faith.

A darker and funnier meditation on small-town American life is Back County Crimes. Playwright Lanie Robertson usually takes on real-life subjects such as Billie Holliday (Lady Day at Emersonís Bar and Grill) and Joe Orton (Nasty Little Secrets), but here she invents a fictional rural Southern town where a doctor sees all manner of injuries. UTAís production is on a double bill with David Mametís The Water Engine. Itís an early (1978) work conceived as a radio play, and itís not as well-known as American Buffalo or Glengarry Glen Ross, and it doesnít deserve to be. Yet as predictable as it is, the play about an inventorís attempts to patent an engine that runs on water does prefigure some of Mametís better dramas, and its anti-corporate satire is made for times like these.

The above plays are all in production this weekend. Check calendar listings for dates, locations, and ticket prices.


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