The Star Bar Players wrap up their 2001-2002 season
The Colorado Springs
Independent, May 23, 2002
"All through my writing death has served as
the place where no one can get you, nobody can call," says Pulitzer
Prizewinning playwright Marsha Norman in the summer 2000 issue of
the art zine, Bomb. "Somehow an early death is appealing in
a silly, fantasy life."
In The Holdup, the Star Bar
Players' season finale, Norman grapples with the immensity of an
early death -- and its consequences. But it's pulled off with a
light-hearted wit (even in the funeral scene) that obscures the
play's heavy-hitting message.
Set over the course of one cold fall night
in 1914, the play features four characters who intersect in a
deserted wheat field of northern New Mexico. Two brothers -- long at
odds with each other -- and two former lovers -- long lost to each
other -- congregate by the cookshack of a wheat-threshing crew,
who's due back at dawn.
It's only meant to be a temporary crossing
of paths, serendipitous and fleeting. After all, one of the lovers
-- the Outlaw, played with an appealing naturalness by Jon Smith --
appears and demands dinner with a pointed gun. He's awaiting the
arrival of his lady love of 20 years back, Lily, performed with
melodramatic flair by Sue Bachman.
But the turn of events cracks open the
tension between the two brothers. Henry, the brooding older sibling
who's never amounted to much, finds in the Outlaw the excitement
absent from his own life, while Archie, a pipsqueak, Bible-thumping
Mama's boy, yaps his way into a suddenly more sober future. Mark
Sullivan is engaging as the dislikable Henry, and Keith Bunish pulls
off immature Archie rather well, nuance not being the strong suit of
"We all have the turning point in which our
character and its future are decided upon in an instant. As quick
and sudden as a gunshot," writes Tony Babin in the director's note.
But while changes in the course of one's life can appear to be
instantaneous, The Holdup's strength is in its clear-eyed
exploration of the history and the patterns that lead you to that
-- Tess Powers