For some, there is no other time than the present itself. However, others can loathe in it and reminisce about the days of old, where even the gloomy parts can still be bright as ever.
This is the case for Roy, the protagonist of Lone Star, a disgruntled war veteran returning home from Vietnam, where he finds out that life has changed without him and he is no longer the man he was before.
Roy, played by Matt de Rogatis (The Collector, Flowers For Algernon), a man seeping with machismo and manliness thanks to his pre-war past, is now a shell of his former self. He is joined by his simple-minded, yet good-hearted younger brother Ray (played by Chris Loupos), where they look at the stars, drink some Lone Star and reflect on the glory days of Roy. All Roy has now are memories, Ray, his wife Elizabeth and his most prized possession- a 1959 pink Thunderbird. Soon enough comes Cletis (Greg Pragel) and with his arrival, certain skeletons that should have stayed in the closet, start to come out.
de Rogatis’ portrayal of Roy is superb. The audience quickly comes to know who Roy is supposed to be: a suicidal drunkard. Within the first minutes, Roy comes running to a cooler and while drinking he wishes upon the stars, having done so 26 times already. Soon enough, he shapes his hand into a gun, where he pretends to shoot himself and immediately put himself on the floor.
Depending on your sense of humor, this scene could be interpreted in two ways. One scenario is that you pity Roy, an alcoholic that wants to kill himself. The other is that Roy is so drunk that he pretends to shoot himself and deals with his demons through comedy. It ultimately makes the most sense. Roy is in desperate need of help. While there are still comedic moments throughout the play, some fall under the category of dark humor, de Rogatis’ performance makes you pity Roy, as, throughout the play, you sense the bitterness, anger, regret Roy has in him because of what the war has put him through, and what he missed because of it.
Nevertheless, Lone Star is still a comedy as most of its comedic moments come from Ray, Roy’s younger dim-witted brother.
Ray is what Forrest Gump was to Roy’s Lieutenant Dan, dumb and cheery. Two examples of his hilarious performance are when he eats a Babe Ruth candy bar and immediately compares it to a turd, noting its texture, length, shape and even its color. Another example is when Roy tells him the horror he witnessed in Vietnam War- skinned babies and even seeing bodies without their heads, to which Ray comically misses the point by asking if they were still alive.
Finally, there is Cletis, think of him as Ned Flanders from the Simpsons. A man by the way he dresses, a yellow long sleeve shirt with a bolo tie and brown khakis pants, you can tell is a simple and timid man. Along with Ray, he receives the short end of the stick from Roy, as he treats him with complete disrespect and nothing else. Greg Pragel’s performance is easy to laugh at when his character whimpers and cowers to Roy.
Throughout the play, you will laugh but the production’s serious subject matter will leave you uncomfortable for laughing in the first place. Either way, these fine actors will entertain you and force you to think and feel.
By the end, after a few laughs and memorable one-liners, you’ll see a light at the end of Roy’s tunnel, or maybe a lone star in the sky that he can wish upon again.
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