Making it to Addison Sunday night after a whirlwind trip to Austin was, shall we say, a trial. But it happened, and all to catch Sundown Collaborative Theatre’s production of Sweet Chariot at the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. And what a good thing I did, because I was sorely in need of a nap and this play—which is really more of an extended monologue in which a sad sack drowns his sorrows both literally and figuratively—delivered the snooze I was looking for. (FrontRow’s theater critic Lindsey Wilson, who joined me in the co-writing of this review, would like it noted that she was not in Austin on Saturday and still fell asleep.)
The flowery script, written and directed by Cody Lucas, screams with purple prose. A man named John (because of course his name is John) still dressed in his power suit for no apparent reason, sloshing around in his bathtub again for a reason that is not fully elucidated, with a bottle of Jim Beam. John is alternately listening and talking to his radio, which is tuned to a KXT-esque station with a smooth-voiced host who talks back. John, played not very well by Billy Baraw, is also super, super sad, and by the end of this, so were we. We were sad that we were so bored.
A little mystery is all well and good, especially when it leads to something, but there’s so very little here to draw the audience in. In a misguided attempt to withhold information for the sake of being thought or feeling-provoking, we’re left with an empty shell rather than anything that resembles a dramatic arc. Nothing happens, not even on the interior, and there’s no character to latch on to, just a vaguely distraught white dude in a tub moaning about his problems. Again, this could have been fine, if, well, the words he was saying were actually interesting. (Lindsey: “I kept wishing he would share the Jim Beam.”)
This is all to say, if we had been that sotto voice on the radio, we would have told John to shut up, get out of the bathtub, and get over it already. Had John been given a better story, we might have been more sympathetic.
See it? If you need a nap. Otherwise, no.
Repeats: Mar. 14, 9:00 pm and Mar. 16, 2:00 pm.