Playwright Beau O'Reilly claims to have listened to a lot of Depression-era folk music while writing this script--and it sounds like it. As in any great Carter Family ballad, lyrical pathos seeps from all the cracks in Whiskey in Blue, and O'Reilly's usual slow-moving but surefooted approach is perfectly suited to his meditation on physical and spiritual impoverishment. Curious Theatre Branch's Whiskey in Blue arrives at the Storefront Theater, after opening at the Lunar Cabaret a little more than a year ago, in much the same state as before. But the taller, wider, deeper space has given O'Reilly and his crack cast even more leeway to dig into the play's sleepy shadows in search of existential truths. And while Paul Leisen and Kat McJimsey as the two mismatched vagabonds anchor this tone poem, the ones who really knock the ball out of the park are Kathleen Powers as the bloodthirsty widow Fingers and Colm O'Reilly as the malapropism-spouting sheriff Mercy. An ill-fitting sanguine ending and O'Reilly's propensity to obfuscate his material threaten to undercut the actors' fine efforts, but the slack and stunted rhythms of this intoxicating dialogue offer awfully handsome rewards. Storefront Theater, Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph, 312-742-8497. Through March 30: Fridays-Saturdays, 7:30 PM; Sundays, 4 PM. $10.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bogdan Nastase.