By Philip Pearce
Evie’s Waltz is dark, comedic, ironic and ultimately horrifying.
We start as suburbanites Clay and Gloria face each other in their tasteful rural patio, preparing a barbecue meal and fighting over their deeply troubled sixteen-year-old son Danny. He and his girlfriend Evie have just been suspended for bringing a gun to school. Accommodating Clay is sure it can all be talked through and worked out with the help of the two kids and Evie’s single mom, who’s on her way over the canyon for veggie kebabs. Unrelenting Gloria is just as sure talk with Danny has become a fruitless joke: this is the unforgivable climax of a succession of gross, juvenile, destructive assaults. As things work out, she doesn’t know the half of it.
When Evie arrives instead of her heavy-drinking mom, she sets off the first of a series of shocks: Danny isn’t brooding upstairs in his bedroom. He’s holed up in a tree on the opposite side of the canyon, ears plugged into Strauss waltzes, his telescopic rifle lens aimed at Clay and Gloria.
Carter W. Lewis’s 75-minute one-act, which opened at the PacRep Circle Theatre last weekend, starts with some recognizable modern parental fears and accelerates them into a nightmare, all of it served up with the utensils, decor and attitudes of a family barbecue. It’s a script in many ways worthy of Hitchcock, not least in its understanding that scary things are heaps scarier if they happen not in some spooky Addams Family mansion but in a bright, cozy and familiar setting.
Efforts to plead and cajole Danny out of his forested hiding hole are confused and futile. At times, his tastes are mock romantic and folksy, forcing the three figures in his shooting gallery to act like any family enjoying a Sunday backyard meal. There are surprise explosions of humor. At one point a cell phone message seems to suggest a breakthrough in the Danny negotiations but he‘s only texting to say the neglected kebabs are on fire.
Jackson Davis, who soloed so powerfully in PacRep’s recent An Iliad, is almost unrecognizably different and just as convincing as the ever hopeful good guy Clay. Wild but focused as the unforgiving Gloria, Julie Hughett is never more brilliant than when her rage is as ruthlessly shattered as is Clay’s careful niceness.
As the agent of all this chaos, Bri Slama’s Evie is a single-minded and disturbingly intelligent mouthpiece for Danny in particular and teen-aged hate and rebellion in general. Gothic in dress and eye-liner, she strides around dropping bombs of lethal truth as if they were the detritus of her hamburger sandwich.
It is a slick, scary, beautifully acted evening in the theater, brief but packed with power. It continues, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30, Sundays at 2, through June 29th.