Review: Pioneer Theatre Company's Other Desert Cities | Theater | Salt Lake City Weekly

Review: Pioneer Theatre Company's Other Desert Cities 

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Other Desert Cities
  • Other Desert Cities

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.

The 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.

Pioneer Theatre Company
300 S. 1400 East, 801-581-6961
Through Nov. 9, see website for times

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Rob Tennant

Rob Tennant is a Salt Lake City freelance writer.

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