Gangsters Santee (Mark Vallarta) and Beaujo (Rudy Galvan) stand guard over Cody (Gavin Robinson), who’s capable of dreaming horse-race winners. Problem is, he’s in a slump. But when he’s switched to the dog track, fortunes change.
Sam Shepard’s script isn’t nearly as vastly poetic as some of his better-known shows and the arc of the piece feels truncated, but the ensemble’s fun to watch; they love the language. Vallarta brings a Ralph Kramdenesque, threatening-yet-comedic energy to the role; Galvan finds his character’s creamy moral center. Head gangster Kevin Stark’s foppish refinement is unexpected but well-drawn; Matt Rockwood literally looms large as the evil intellectual and physical muscle.
Director Carlo Lorenzo Garcia orchestrates the necessary tension that keeps the story interesting and doesn’t let the metaphysical overshadow the humor or the human. Michelle Underwood’s projection design gives the visuals otherworldly oomph. It’s not Shepard’s best, but his second-best is good enough. (Lisa Buscani)
Mary-Arrchie Theatre, 735 West Sheridan, (773)871-0442.Through October 28. (Half-Priced Tickets)