Comedy features American Indian family
A comedy about an American Indian family — whose flaws and foibles aren’t glossed over — added up to a feel-good theatrical experience.
The top, performance award-winning play in the ninth annual 2018 Native American New Play Festival, was “Round Dance” by Arigon Starr.
Set at a Los Angeles gas station in the 1950s, it was staged Saturday in the intimate City Space Theatre at Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker.
Wilson Daingkau was solid and unaffected, but very effective as Rudy Kernel, a veteran with a head scar, assumed to be a war wound.
The scar has a back story, leading to blackmail, but also romance with a no-nonsense nurse, played with just enough panache by the play’s author, Starr.
Starr, the nurse with a purse, had some of the best scenes, explaining that she’s nonviolent, but her purse isn’t, before wielding it to good advantage. Bobby Barron was a surprisingly likable villain, not only trying blackmail, but twotiming his pregnant wife at a tavern after Rudy’s birthday dinner.
Zack T. Morris nearly stole the show as an Indian actor, who tells others “don’t let my Hollywood looks fool you,” and drops stars’ names with aplomb.
Scene-stealing, too, was Anevay Greenwood as Rudy’s spunky sister, smitten with the early Elvis and ending up with a life-size cutout of The King.
Misty Red Elk was a forceful presence as Jennie Hand, who wants to sell the gas station and has concealed her Indian ancestry, except to her husband.
The play is open to the criticism of having too many characters, yet the large cast seemed to fit the sprawling, almost Rabelaisian feeling of the piece.
The production directed by Carolyn Dunn saved the best for last, a title “Round Dance” instead of title character, that spectators were encouraged to join. Other assets included an excellent set, designed by Ben Hall, and costumes, both work clothes and ceremonial, in the final scene, designed by Jessica Scarborough.
It is highly recommended in its remaining performances at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
— John Brandenburg,
for The Oklahoman
Zack T. Morris, as Al Dullard, rehearses a scene in “Round Dance,” the featured play for the Ninth Annual Native American New Play Festival, at the Civic Center CitySpace Theatre in Oklahoma City.