Come Home

Yellow Tape Construction Company's self-styled indie folk musical 'Come Home' plays out like a quaint indie film with Midwestern melancholia and harmony

Arts Review

Come Home

Redhouse Art Space, through Oct. 8

Driving across America should be a mandate for all red-blooded Americans. Not just to see the sun-baked hills and clear skies of the geographical terrain but also to share the lure of the open road with someone. They say the best way to know anyone is to travel with them. What better fodder for a character analysis than to be stuck in a car with a complete stranger?

Yellow Tape Construction Company heads out on the highway but stays at home with their production Come Home, a self-styled "indie folk musical." Yellow Tape artistic directors Jonathon Morgan and Amanda Butterfield are new to Austin but have that do-it-yourself attitude that endures in local theatre. They crashed at the Redhouse Art Space – Chris Humphrey and Ben Johnston's living room, to be exact – which has wood floors and dark bookcases nesting in country home nostalgia.

The musical plays out like a quaint indie film with Midwestern melancholia and harmony. Paula (Breanna Stogner) takes Eugenie (Juliane Tyler) home to Austin after leaving a funeral in Cleveland. The car seems to be going at warp speed, but that doesn't slow the awkwardness of riding with a total stranger. Eugenie makes a face. Paula starts poking. They switch car seats while still driving on the road. Ultimately, they discover that they feel deserted in their separate lives. After all, a road trip is the vehicle for freedom, they say. Destination is friendship.

Morgan's script calls for the customary road-trip shenanigans like Truth or Dare or Spot-the-Animal games, the obligatory I-have-to-pee scenario, and the occasional bursting into folk songs. Curvaceous Stogner and lanky Tyler are well-paired; with similar mezzo-sopranos, the duo beat their brown corduroys, stomp, snarl, and snort percussively to a tune while crooning blithely to one another. Butterfield's frayed lyrics are barely audible even in the small living room, but laid-back acoustic warmth softens the ride.

Once the music starts, you can almost see the traffic lines pass with each note, as though the radio is specially tuned to the Come Home Quartet. Yellow Tape pulls from the musical talents of pianist Tim Doyle of the Blue Crowns, bassist Eric Schneider, and Morgan on guitar. What really gives the music its flavor, however, is the graceful canary song of the fiddler, Lisa Schneider.

Sitting in the intimate space, you get to know the little stories from the people. Like the time when Argentine tango dancers majestically marked up their living room floor, spent the night, and mysteriously disappeared the following morning. Or the time Paul McCartney sat in at a tech rehearsal for Morgan's company in the UK, Red Productions, and laughed at two actors rehearsing their dog position.

Come Home proves that Morgan and Butterfield's new company, with its "indie" vision to fuse folk and theatre, could be a trendsetter on the Austin theatre scene.

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Come Home, Jonathon Morgan, Amanda Butterfield, Yellow Tape Construction Company, Breanna Stogner, Juliane Tyler, Redhouse Art Space, Chris Humphrey, Ben Johnston, Come Home Quartet, Tim Doyle, Blue Crowns, Eric Schneider, Lisa Schneider

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