Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Lone Star and Private Wars

James McLure
king's Head Theatre
(2007)

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This production of a double-bill, which is immersed in humour, may be remembered more for one its actors' parental affiliation than for its theatrical direction or for the other two protagonists. Well, when your mother is Jerry Hall and your father is Mick Jagger then you risk being to critics what a red rag is to a bull. That might explain the impressive number of theatre critics in this small theatre on Press Night.

Yes, James Jagger's professional début performance can be judged as impressive. He is a talented actor in his own right.

In Lone Star & Private Wars McLure created a fascinating triangle of characters whose lives gravitate towards one of the three. The impact each has on the other is a fusion of destruction and healing. In Lone Star two of the three characters destroy their hero's world, each in his own way, yet provided an opportunity for a forward looking future. Private Wars is more of a closed triangle with unconvincing prospects for optimism.

Lone Star is the name of a Texan beer which Roy (James Richie) indulges in drinking a caseload, encouraging his younger brother Ray, (William Meredith) to share. He gets intoxicated enough to retell stories that his adoring brother has learnt by heart. He explains to Ray that he promised himself to drink lots of beer on his return from the war in Vietnam. Ray, with childish innocence, that triggers laughter, replies "But you have now been back two years".

Roy wears his heart on his sleeve and we soon learn of the three great passions of his life; his wife Elizabeth, the 1959 pink Thunderbird convertible and his country. He makes it clear that he served his country: "I did my time" he keeps reminding his brother emphasising that Ray was not even listed for military service. His 1959 pink Thunderbird, on the other hand, is the embodiment of his cherished past in Texas. Here he has his adolescent memories of intimate dates and nipples after which he would allow his younger brother to smell the seats.

Cletis, a dim-head irritating nerd, convincingly performed by James Jagger, worships Roy despite Roy's transparent dislike of the man to whom he comments, "I will not piss in your mouth even if your guts were on fire" and that is before he discover that Cletis wrecked the very embodiment of his youth and happy days, his pink Thunderbird. Lone Star helps loosen Ray's tongue too; he confesses to his brother Roy that he made love to his beloved Elizabeth "more than once".

Private Wars is set in an army hospital. Three G.I.s are recovering from what seem to be emotional and serious physical injuries. It exposes the undercurrents in which each individual struggle to cope with himself as well as coping with each other. Silvio, overacted by Shane Richie, despite losing his genitalia, keeps 'flashing' at the nurses. Gately (William Meredith) obsessively works on a broken radio, stealing other radios for parts. Natwick (James Jagger), a Long Island rich man-of-letters keep his mum informed of selective events that reflect personal aspirations and illusions.

Lone Star stimulated more laugher and thoughts than Private Wars. The latter presented the audience with disjointed shards that failed to gel.

Kate Plantin's casting in Lone Star is an inspired choice. The performance by all three actors teased out laughter from the jaws of despair.

Reviewer: Rivka Jacobson