POOR DEVILS and BUFFALO ROAM, Annex Theatre Company, at Stage Left Theatre. This entertaining evening of new tragicomedies offers a look into the twisted, creative minds of local playwrights Steve Hughes and Greg Owens, both of whom take ordinary locations and shift our perspective to just this side of strange.
In Buffalo Roam, Owens's short meditation, two businessmen watch through their office window as an endless herd of buffalo thunders by in the street below. A lot of fun, this trifle rambles with comic banality into deep philosophical waters, leaving us as bemused as it found us. Harry Bauer and Sid Parker are a little too generic for their roles, however: the play depends on the actors to flesh out its wit. Still, Buffalo Roam is a good opening act that should be extended.
Hughes's Poor Devils is the story of two would-be criminals too sweet to be mean and too dumb to survive without hurting themselves or others. Rocky and his pregnant wife Paradise are trying to rob enough motorists to get to New York City, a plot that strands them on the roadside in an intriguing mood that combines Sam Shepard's menacing dialogue with Wendy Wasserstein's smart-ass sweetness. Hughes plays Rocky with a knowing charm, and Morgan Hallett gives Paradise a subtle combination of childish playfulness and simpleminded carnality. Brian Van Hoy's slides of Texas roadways underline the barren feeling of the production's desert-beige stage.