Scoping Out the Long Fringe of FronteraFest 2000
Two by Linneyby Romulus Linney
The Off Center
Running Time: 2 hrs
Time Magazine once described playwright Romulus Linney as "one of the American theatre's most mysteriously buried treasures." The United States Theater Company unearths two of this treasure's pearls as part of the FronteraFest 2000 Long Fringe. Though very different works, the one-acts F.M. and The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks echo each other in timeless, succinct, and subtle ways.
The first play, F.M., takes place on the first day of a non-credit creative writing class at an Alabama college. To say the class is small would be an understatement; it consists of the teacher and only three students. Directed by Meredith Baker, the concentration of actors bask in Linney's very focused dialogue. When the first two students (Gina Mears and Rebecca Davis) are asked what and why they are writing, each woman unfolds her character slowly, revealing Southern manners and stinging cynicism, respectively. Buford Bullough (Timothy Verret) bumbles into class late and ill-prepared, seemingly the antithesis of what a writer should be. Linney once wrote that "Bad writing is bad enough; bad Southern writing is the worst." Verret proves Linney wrong.
The second play revolves around an informal military investigation (seems like an oxymoron, doesn't it?) into the death of an U.S. Army general and his wife. Set three years before 1973's cease-fire agreement between national security advisor Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese representative Le Duc Tho, this play examines a Hawaiian military base seemingly far away from the conflict. Seemingly. Having served in the U.S. Army from 1954-56, Linney writes The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks with a military authority and a civilian sensibility. Featuring actors from F.M. as well as new faces, the play ends with the presentation of a tense, terse Kabuki-like drama. Each character has his/her own attitude toward the Army, ranging from intense loathing (Colonel Moore, played by Verret, and Edward Roundhouse, played by Eric Peterson) to fiery respect (Lorna Ann Bates, played by Rhian Baker, and Captain Martin, played by R. Brian Normoyle). Baker, the director, makes the most of her stage space, placing a looming portrait of President Richard Nixon overhead and an American flag onstage without being heavy-handed. (Feb 5, Sat, 7:15pm; Feb 6, Sun, 8:45pm $8.)