The Jungle Theater's latest play, Lone Star Spirits by Josh Tobiessen, drops the audience into a liquor store in a down on its luck Texas town. The stage is authentically transformed into this a homey backdrop designed by Sarah Bahr (also costume designer), and is filled with booze and knick knacks to fuel the hilarious and touching interactions of the five characters that make up this story.
Walter (Terry Hempleman) runs the liquor store and is thrilled that his daughter Marley (Thallis Santestaban) is back in town after leaving seven years ago.Marley has brought her hipster boyfriend/fiance from Connecticut Ben (John Catron) with her. Drew (Nate Cheeseman), Marley's ex boyfriend, obsessed with his high school football glory days is a regular at the store. As is Jessica (Christian Bardin), a war widow and single mother who was friends with Marley in High School.
They all find themselves together in the store at the same time, all wanting different things. It is quite a set up, and all the hilarity expected from such an awkward situation is delivered beautifully. As are the many tender and emotional moments. Although this play can safely be classified as a comedy it contains moments that will leave the audience misty eyed. It is an extremely well rounded play. It is also a great look at rural America, a place that many would now call "Trump's America", by those who live there, those who left and complete outsiders. At the center of it all is a ghost story, a pull between honoring what was and towards the future and better things.
The 90 minute play takes you on a fascinating ride that is guaranteed to make you laugh, jump in your seat and just maybe cry. In this time in our country it is important that we understand each other and Lone Star Spirits helps us do just that.
Lone Star Spirits is running at the Jungle Theater until May 7th.
Photo: Nate Cheeseman (Drew), Thallis Santesteban (Marley), John Catron (Ben), and Christian Bardin (Jessica)PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Norman