Necessary Animals?

The Kentucky Cycle kicks much theatrical butt

The last play of the cycle, The War on Poverty, finds Joshua Rowen (a very effective Dan Lemieux) stumbling upon his family's original homestead. Shilling Creek is now full of silt and garbage. Once-lush fields are scrubbed bare by timbering and mining, and the land is mostly broom sedge and hard rock. It's bruised and battered, but it still remembers—as does Joshua Rowen, who doesn't know quite why he's here but encounters the ghosts of all those who have fought and died on this spot of ground.

It's that sense of the land remembering that gives this play such a powerful ending punch. A wolf howl begins this cycle of plays, and a wolf sighting ends it—even though, as one character says, no wolf has been sighted in the Cumberlands for 50 years. But, evidently, the wolves are returning, as the people slowly leave the land they've ruined. And in a play in which revenge plays such a critical part, perhaps that's who will exact the final revenge: the land itself. The trees will return to cover all traces of civilization, the ground will swallow all memories of mankind's rude intrusion, and the wolf will run freely over the bones of the animals who, out of their own myopic sense of necessity, turned a natural paradise into a poisoned, ravaged pit. Check back in 200 years.

The Kentucky Cycle at Fullerton College's Bronwyn Dodson Theatre, 321 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, (714) 992-7298. Part 1: Thurs., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m.; Part 2: Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. $10.50 for each part; $13 for both.

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