“Laundry and Bourbon” and “Lone Star” are two one-act plays by James McLure that personify the feeling of longing for a time when everything was simpler.
Both plays have three characters each. “Laundry and Bourbon” has the calm and longing Elizabeth, played by Brianna Perry; the seemingly uneducated and obnoxious Hattie, played by Amber True; and the preppy and snobbish Amy Lee, played by Katie Delicath.
“Lone Star” has the angry and perverse brother Roy, played by Christian Borgaard; the dull but thoughtful brother Ray, played by Rison Lain; and the successful but naive Cletis, played by Charles Detheridge.
The plays are connected to each other because the characters Roy and Elizabeth and Cletis and Amy Lee are married. All the characters grew up together in Maynard, Texas.
The first play, “Laundry and Bourbon,” takes place on the back porch of Elizabeth and Roy’s house in Maynard. The setting is presented in a thrust-style, meaning that the porch itself is at the back of the stage and the grass lawn extends into the audience.
The play is performed up close and on the same level as the audience rather than up on a stage, which better helps the audience connect to the production. The crew takes it a step further by using real grass sod for the lawn area of the stage and placing lawn chairs and a drying rack for laundry in the grass. The warm smell of the dead grass helps bring the audience into the dry town of Maynard.
The second play, “Lone Star,” takes place in the back of Angel’s Bar in Maynard. The set is transformed during the 15-minute intermission. Car parts and junk litter the porch and lawn, giving the feeling of a dingy back lawn. The junk littering the lawn helps give the audience the feeling of it being a dumpy back area where bar goers go to get fresh air or to throw up in a dumpster.
Both play’s themes center around the characters longing for old times. They speak of the times before Roy went to fight in Vietnam and before everyone in Maynard grew up. Both Elizabeth and Roy talk very fondly of their memories of how things were when they were kids. Hattie and Ray remind them that their memories may have not have been as glamorous as they thought. All the characters seemed to have settled for the best they could get from Maynard.
The play uses a 1959 pink Thunderbird convertible that Roy bought almost new when he was in high school to help portray that longing for the time before the war. When they were young the convertible was shiny and new. Now that they’ve all grown up, it has become decrepit and rusty. Roy tries to cling to the past the same way he clings to his convertible. The actors realize that things can never go back to the way they were before when the convertible is destroyed in an accident.
The performance mixes moments of deep sadness with hilarity. Elizabeth and Roy serve as serious and longing characters, while Hattie and Ray serve as comically uneducated characters that balance out the sadness and longing. Hattie and Ray also serve as the realists who understand that things have changed while Elizabeth and Roy only see the glamorous past that can no longer be.
The production captures the theme of the plays with the small details the actors successfully show with the story. All the characters maintain the detail in their personalities, in the accents they speak in and the actions they perform. The performances immerse audience members into the story and helps them feel what the characters feel.