If Pioneer Theatre Company’s Other Desert Cities were one of your
co-workers, it would be that guy down the hall who’s name is probably
Jim, but you’re not sure enough to actually call him that out loud so
you just call him “Buddy” instead. He’s not quite bad, not quite good,
but just cruising along in perfect mediocrity.
The show opens with
the whole Wyeth family—parents Polly (Joyce Cohen) and Lyman (Dennis
Parlato) and their grown children Brooke (Nancy Lemenager) and Trip
(Michael Zlabinger)—coming in from a morning game of backyard tennis.
Their collective post-exercise thirst is quickly quenched by orange
juice and vodka. Their generational political gulfs are discussed. Yes,
this is one of those “Privileged People Drinking and Fighting with Each
Other” plays. There’s a kooky, free-spirited aunt (Kate Skinner).
Fingers are pointed for old family tragedies. Secrets are revealed.
failings of these tired tropes are nearly overcome by some sparkling
performances, particularly the easy charm Parlato brings to the family’s
aging matinee idol-cum-GOP-bigwig patriarch. Skinner’s full committal
to the high-octane zaniness of Aunt Silda nearly makes the stereotype
fresh. On the other hand, Lemenager’s portrayal of the sensitive writer
daughter with shaky mental health is mostly stuck in third gear, rarely
shifting up or down to provide a dynamic mood.
PTC’s Other Desert
Cities isn’t quite worth the pit stop unless you’re headed that way
already. I recommend pushing on to the next town.
OTHER DESERT CITIES
Pioneer Theatre Company
300 S. 1400 East, 801-581-6961
Through Nov. 9, see website for times