High-caliber performances drive Timothy McNeil's world-premiere dramedy, Machu Picchu, Texas, about families enmeshed in a web of crisis. The Houston home of Sonia (Bonnie McNeil) and Harold Ogden (Tom Stanczyk) has become a hospice for their nephew, Terry (Matt Magnusson), and Sonia's brother, Charles (McNeil). An assault by hooligans has left Charles brain-damaged and using a wheelchair. Terry, forced to witness the attack on his father, is emotionally traumatized.
The tragedy, however, is only a metaphor for a deeper malaise that batters these souls like a malevolent wind. Harold is an insufferable, boorish drunk who delights in browbeating the sweetly accommodating Sonia, their troubled daughter, Melissa (Meghan Cox), and his sister-in-law, Rhonda (Tara Stewart-Thornton), whose anger over husband Charles' pitiful state is really the top layer of her devouring disillusionment with life.
Stoically tolerating their failings and miseries — and each other — is what this group does best, and McNeil's script, which touches on love, loss, taboo sexual desires and even reincarnation, bristles with grainy dialogue and dark humor.
McNeil, who also directs, draws fine performances from a sizable cast that includes Heidi Sulzman, a runaway hoot as the mouthy, attitudinally vibrant June Bug. Michael Fitzgerald's expansive set design, which includes a bar and two craft workshops, adds the requisite touch of the Southwest rustic.

Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Jan. 18. Continues through Feb. 17, 2013

LA Weekly