THIS PROPERTY IS CONDEMNED and 27 WAGONS FULL OF COTTON, RowHouse Theatre. If you're going to catch a dud, you may as well do it in RowHouse Theatre's superpleasant outdoor arena. They've set up three rows of chairs and a tiny makeshift stage in somebody's backyard, where you sit under a canopy of trees, sip wine, and listen to the next-door neighbor's dog bark each time the el thunders by a half block away. If you've ever strung up a bedsheet behind the garage and invited the neighborhood kids to watch you make a fool of yourself, you're in for an evening of intense deja vu.
The productions of these two Tennessee Williams one-acts, however, lack the charm and good humor of the RowHouse environment. Sluggishly paced and indiscriminately staged, neither play comes into focus. Lori Garrabrant turns in a convincing performance as the doubly abused wife in 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, and Dorislee Jackson has her moments as a deflowered 13-year-old in This Property Is Condemned. But otherwise the performances range from serviceable to somnambulant. When you're upstaged by passing breezes, it's time to go back to the drawing board. --Justin Hayford