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Review: "Men, Sex, and War"

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“Lone Star” and “Private Wars” by James McLure, starring Ted LeRoy, Matthew Pippin, and Jared Morgan

This weekend I took in both shows in the “Men, Sex, and War” plays. They play at the Hurricane lounge for three more Friday and Saturday nights, see details at http://www.wenatcheeworld.com/events/ongoing/5844/. If you buy tickets to both, be sure to get the $20 package deal.

These shows are billed as comedies, but they really are dramas with funny moments. The themes are very serious, and revolve around imperfect people trying to hold on to what once made them happy. If you see both, you’ll recognize common elements between them: Men back from war, alpha males dominating the pack, twitchy/nervous underdogs, drink bringing out the truth, and coyote howls.

The three actors that do both plays are very good, and they work the tiny stage from every angle. If you are thinking “theatre in a bar?” don’t worry, The Hurricane Lounge is committed to not allowing distractions, and you can really focus on the play. The seating is up close and personal . . . you can see Ted LeRoy’s rage veins pop out when his characters get worked up. All three men are spot on for both casting and performance.

“Lone Star” starts out on familiar ground, but starts to twist at the end, and the characters are recognizable and believable, though at first a bit stereotypical. As the beer flows and memories get examined, current events get into the mix and derail the typical Friday night at a small-town bar. This play has some genuine belly laughs in it, but not at the expense of the true drama at its core.

“Private Wars” is a little slow at the start and a bit disjointed as we see short scenes of interactions between three war veterans in a VA hospital. As the play progresses, the story tightens up and we see the deceitful relationships and power struggles between the three emerge. There are moments of black humor that are the result of the men’s insecurities and mental and (unseen) physical wounds, but don’t expect a comedy.

Both plays are “grown-up” entertainment, which you probably knew (it is a bar, after all!), and in “Private Wars” you will see one man in his socks and tighty whiteys. If swearing offends you, pick something else to watch. But if you’re not afraid of exploring a little darkness of the soul, these two plays are a bargain for $12 each (and first drink’s free!)