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the road weeps, the well runs dry

There are glints of the Oresteia in Marcus Gardley's poetic, sweeping drama, the road weeps, the well runs dry, which takes place in a 19th-century Oklahoma town settled by fleeing African-American freedmen and their Native American cohabitants. The story's tragic chain of events erupts around the searing rivalry between the community's swaggering Native American sheriff, Trowbridge (Darrell Dennis), and his implacable enemy, Number Two (Demetrius Grosse), a dark and violent man. When their children fall in love, Number Two brutally and without compunction murders his rival's son, whereupon drought settles on the land, followed by additional cruel and heartrending events. The play's grim narrative is leavened by its all-too-human characters and their laughable foils: a feckless preacher (Darryl Alan Reed) functions as a spineless companion to his fanatical wife (Nakia Secrest); an ineffectual shaman (Brent Jennings) keeps up his dancing long after its senselessness becomes clear. As a fount of evil, Grosse simmers in Act I and scorches in Act II. The rest of the ensemble shines as well, especially Monnae Michaell as Trowbridge's angry widow, a woman of mighty magic who ultimately proves to be Number Two's nemesis. Designer Frederica Nascimento's bleak but striking set and Bruno Louchouarn's haunting music and sound frame the spectacle. Shirley Jo Finney's direction displays her accomplished hand.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Oct. 26. Continues through Nov. 17, 2013

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Los Angeles Theatre Center

514 S. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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