It’s Not Too Late To See Late: A Cowboy Song This Friday, Saturday AND Sunday

Thursday, August 29, 2013
late2

Red (Kim Haile), Amber Grimes and Chris Parreira

Lauraine Leblanc
Eye Arts Scrutinizer

The print version of this review erroneously stated that here remained just one performance of the play. Fortunately, there are in fact still three opportunities to see it at Plays in the Park: Friday and Saturday Aug. 30 and 31 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 1 at 2 p.m. playsinthepark.org

REDWOOD PARK – In an unconventional move, Skyclad Productions stages Sarah Ruhl’s Late: A Cowboy Song alternating with Shakespeare’s As You Like It in this summer’s revival of Plays in the Park.

It’s a bold move, juxtaposing the Elizabethan with the contemporary, and the program explains that the troupe chose to do so as a commitment to promoting the work of  female playwrights. Beyond that, however, the pairing of Late with As You Like It, both plays that explicitly explore gender norms, is bold and effective, especially for an audience that takes the time to take in both.

Tragedy and comedy: Mary (Kate Haley) and Crick (Brian Walker).

Tragedy and comedy: Mary (Kate Haley) and Crick (Brian Walker).

Late is the tragicomic story of a young couple, sweethearts since the age of eight, who marry due to a pregnancy, but whose relationship dissolves as they discover that they have grown apart. Crick, a hapless and childlike art lover (perfectly played by Brian Walker), spends most of his time in the house, seeking a more perfect domesticity. Mary, a poetical and conflicted young woman (an engaging Kate Haley), constantly has one foot out of the door, seeking outside their home for what will feed her soul. In doing so, she seeks out the company of a childhood friend, Red, a wry, zenned-out female cowboy (a wholly believable Kim Haile) who sings the titular cowboy songs and functions as a sort of  Greek chorus.

The play is set to music composed and performed by Chris Parreira, accompanied on the bass by Amber Grimes.

In the course of two hours, gender expectations are challenged not just by the birth of an intersex baby (which contributes little but point out that gender is the issue) but by the domesticity of Crick and taciturnity of Red.

As Late is loose and ramblin’ type of play, there are no neat conclusions. Beyond raising questions, Late offers only fluidity as a possible solution. The audience is left to draw their own conclusions, and much post-play discussion is sure to ensue.

Of special note, the set design was especially notable, set changes somooth, and the horse quite fantastic and not to be missed.

Staged by SkyClad Theater with the assistance of Ink People, the City of Arcata Recreation Division and North Coast Repertory Theatre, Late alternates with As You Like It. There are still three opportunities to see it at Plays in the Park: Friday and Saturday Aug. 30 and 31 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 1 at 2 p.m. 

Tickets are $10 and are available at City of Arcata Parks and Recreation office at City Hall (707) 822-7091 or by visiting playsinthepark.org.

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