By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
By Sarah Bennett
By LP Hastings
By Jena Ardell
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
By Joel Beers
Photo by Ken Howard/SCRIt's utterly inconceivable that Jesus was a paleface. And it can be proved logically: What enlightened force responsible for the creation of all existence would choose to embody itself as a white person—the most boring sentient creature ever to walk the planet?
White music is boring—or am I the only one not waking up with a morning woody at the resurgence of this thing called "white roots music"? White neighborhoods are boring—been to Aliso Viejo lately? Hell, if you believe Richard Pryor, even the way white people fuck is boring.
But nothing so nakedly exposes the mediocrity and blandness of the white soul more than the homespun, folksy characters who populate the world of Horton Foote's new play, Getting Frankie Married—and Afterwards, a stultifying piece of theater that is as lifeless and inconsequential as its characters.
The only thing exciting about this play is how unexciting it is, especially considering the pedigree of the guy who wrote it. Foote is approaching American Writer Landmark status. Among other things, he wrote the screenplays for To Kill a Mockingbirdand Tender Merciesand won the Tony and Pulitzer for his play The Young Man From Atlanta.But never has South Coast Repertory—one of the finest purveyors of new plays in the country—produced a Foote play.
Until now. The 86-year-old, Texan-born playwright's Getting Frankie Marriedwas commissioned by South Coast Rep. But after watching it, my guess is the people who run the theater were afraid to hurt Foote's feelings by not producing it.
You want ideas? Forget it. You want compelling characters? Skip it. You want rich, evocative language? Try again. You want a play littered with the kind of homespun, folksy Texas humor that reinforces the notion that white people truly are a race of retards, morons and idiots? Then, by all means, check this out:
An old woman on her deathbed is trying to get her son, Fred, married to his longtime girlfriend, Frankie. But the secrets and lies that pop up in this small Texas town derail any and all hopes for happiness between the two.
The only thing more depressing than how much fat and gristle you have to choke down to get to the tiny strands of meat clinging to the bones of Foote's play is how the opening-night audience ate it up. A neighbor can't cook, but she keeps bringing food over for the harried household. Hold for ROARING LAUGHTER. An old man keeps complaining of shortness of breath. Pause for TITTERING AND CHUCKLING.
The only thing remotely compelling about Foote's play is his central character, Fred (Joel Anderson). He's a nice, unassuming guy who dotes on his sickly mother and seems to be a responsible, straight-arrow boy next door. But the truth is he's pathetic, the kind of weak soul unable to take commitment and responsibility seriously.
But whether Fred's inability to treat himself or the people around him with respect is an inborn character flaw or some perverse reaction to the fact that he has to take care of his sickly mother is a question Foote doesn't explore.
Instead, we get lame pun after lame pun, lame character after lame character, lame line after lame line.
For the most part, I was stone cold dead during this show. And the fact that the audience—full of white people, of course—cackled in delight at every reference to every gumbo proved for the 1,098th time that the only thing more boring than white people is white people watching white people.
Getting Frankie Married—and Afterwards at South Coast Repertory's Mainstage, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555. Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 & 7:30 p.m. Through May 5. $27-$43.