By Horton Foote
Directed by Michael Menendian
At Raven Theatre, Chicago
Not so friendly rich Texas family vies for love and companionship
Set in 1965 in the fictional Texas town of Harrison (near Houston), playwright Horton Foote’s dark comic drama, The Old Friends, tells of the combative members of two old-money Texas families who are not so friendly. When Sibyl (Lori Myers) returns to Harrison after several decades, old passions are rekindled between her and Howard (Will Casey), leaving the obnoxious drunken Gertrude (JoAnn Montemurro) jealous, since she yearns for Howard.
Add to that Julie Price (Judy Lea Steele), the aging sex-starved wife of Albert (Ron Quade) who is rich and horny. She has her sights on the boy-toy Tom Underwood (Andy Monson), a young gold-digger. Gertrude and Julie compete for the cute boy while Gertrude ultimately wants Howard. Mamie Borden, Cybil’s aunt, needs to live elsewhere from Julia Price, whom she hates.
Drinks flow as the bored, horny, manipulative Gertrude and the aggressive Julia battle. Gertrude tries to control Howard, who works for her while she tries to “buy” Cybil away from Howard. The dark humor and the drinks fuel the action that finds Gertrude and Julia each going over the top toward their desired conquests. Cybil quietly stakes her claim on Harrison, living while Howard struggles to leave the strong influence of Gertrude and her wealth.
The result of all this is a wild party with loads of booze, loads of screaming, many physical actions with a few gun-shots as the “friends” interact Texas-style. Brutally satiric in its depiction of 60’s small-town moneyed folks, The Old Friends is a mildly entertaining glimpse into Foote’s Lone Star world. JoAnn Montemurro’s command of the stage is marvelous as the domineering rich old lady, while Lori Myers is terrific as the subdued returning relation struggling to find a new life in Harrison.
The performances make the material come alive on stage as The Old Friends emerges as a watchable dark comic drama.
At Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark, Chicago, IL, call 773-338-2177, www.raventheatre.com, tickets $42 ($39 id purchased online), Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 om, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with intermission,through March 26, 2016