Sideways the Play
The well-known saying may be In vino veritas, but in playwright Rex Pickett's adaptation of his novel, booze from a hundred bottles of wine flows around the stage, and the dysfunctional characters still all lie like shag rugs.
Pickett's novel, of course, has already been adapted into an Oscar-winning film, but in this deft iteration of the tale, the author returns to his original narrative. The results, in director Amelia Mulkey's winning, funny and wise production, are more involvingly intimate than the movie. Pickett's tale of a pair of middle-aged man-boys enjoying a week of Santa Ynez Valley tippling whilst becoming romantically entangled with a pair of beautiful but naive wine servers boasts a gentle sincerity that's strangely theatrical.
You may wonder how a story that is so outdoors-oriented as this tale of touring Santa Ynez Valley wineries could possibly translate to the comparatively close environs of a tiny stage. Yet director Mulkey's production adroitly captures the mood of rural Santa Ynez, with C.J. Strawn's barnlike set populated by a cast of supporting actors with grizzled beards, sunburned faces and tank tops, looking like denizens of the wine country.
As Miles, the self-absorbed writer and wine connoisseur, John Colella imbues his character with equal parts self-loathing and vulnerability. Jonathan Bray's turn as Miles' heartless best pal and traveling buddy is a droll study in piglike manhood. Julia McIlvaine delivers an exquisite, luminous turn as Miles' sensitive, inscrutable love interest.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: May 18. Continues through Sept. 2, 2012
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