Seven Stories, One Parable, and Three Songs by David Bowie, Van Chester Productions, at the Heartland Studio Theater. "Movies are in black and white, but life comes in color," laments the young protagonist of this new play by Sean Farrell. But cinematic, dramatic, and literary fantasies offer a perspective on chaos--or at least provide a means of fighting the panic--and become the cord that connects his memories of an upbringing in a nouveau riche New England family. His hard-drinking, romantic, imaginative mother recasts his sensitive egghead father as a Marlon Brando-style Neanderthal (when these two go through a stormy divorce, then announce their plans to remarry, their shocked son wails, "Tennessee Williams must be laughing!"). A saintly brother dies young. There's also a punk-rebel sister and the usual assortment of spendthrift prep-school peers.
Like his protagonist, Farrell seems to have gotten a firmer grip on his often chaotic material, departing from the dazzling mosaic of last year's Car Martyr--Alaska to forge a linear narrative. This script retains the startling imagery that made that work so delightful, veering off into space only in its final moments. But even when Farrell's content grows nebulous, actor James Holton--a product of the same milieu as his character--gives the text a coherent shape.
--Mary Shen Barnidge