John Wilson’s new play about a group of shit-kicking Texas delinquents has a lot going for it. The debut production at Steep Theatre, directed by the playwright, is loud and blatantly aggressive, with a “Grand Theft Auto” sensibility. Testosterone hangs in the air like heavy slabs of beef, and there’s a visceral sort of pleasure derived from that. These are nasty boys Wilson has conjured, and they come from homes where drunken fathers beat the crap out of their kids. James (Sean Neely) is the ringleader, a mean and brutish lout who calls himself a former skinhead, but all evidence points to the contrary. He coerces and bullies his pals as they fill their empty days with tattoos and dead animal sightings. There’s something engrossing about the dark humor of it all, but the play loses its hold when it toggles between its in-your-face realism and a portentous, surreal lyricism in which the characters bare their souls. There’s an awful lot of stylistic jostling going on here, and it saps the energy from what could be a meaner, tighter, psychologically ambiguous work. Sometimes what’s left unsaid is the most intriguing element of all. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.