Two Hits & A Miss: Out of the Loop Fringe Festival 2013

“Underneath The Lintel” with Patrick O’Brien (Stone Cottage):

One of the finest one-man shows I’ve ever seen, this seat’s-edge riveting performance by nationally honored, seasoned film, television and stage actor Patrick O’Brien could easily end up as the VERY Best Performance at Loop 2013. Easy to see why it earned him ‘Best of’ designation at London’s 2012 Fringe Festival. Huge kudos to WaterTower Theatre for bringing him to Dallas to share his talents and spin his tale. If you missed it at this loop cycle, maybe he’ll return. Portraying a slight, unassuming librarian with hesitant demeanor and hushed voice, at first O’Brien lulls the audience into leaning back in their chairs for a refined, intellectual entertainment. As he stealthily unleashes the compulsive tsunami of emotion driving his character to travel the world to solve the mystery of a small book overdue by a century, the audience gets whipped along by his white-hot story-telling style and finds themselves stalking faint clues at his heels, almost seeing and smelling the exotic locales where the chase leads. What seems at first view very personal explodes on a global scale. The timeless, existential lessons he learns and shares are as thought provoking and archetypal as Joyce’s Ulysses. For a short stage performance, it’s as satisfying as setting off on a world jaunt of self-discovery without the expense, the airport pat-downs or the lost luggage. “Underneath the Lintel” was written by Glen Berger.

Sublime, absolutely.

Nobody’s Hart with Diana Sheehan (Stone Cottage):

Voted “Best of” at Out of the Loop Fringe Festival 2012 where she played to sold-out houses with her cabaret Midway: Crisis or Carnival, regional stage luminary and song stylist Diana Sheehan returns in 2013 with her current cabaret, Nobody’s Hart, celebrating the lyrics of Lorenz Hart. Between songs she quotes Josh Logan’s description of Hart’s lyrics as “giving us something we all need: a color, a tone a bittersweet beauty”. That description fits her haunting delivery of Hart’s lyrics, filled with rich warmth and resonant soulful longing. Her two sets with intermission feature well-known tunes and some forgotten ones. She delivers all with seamless dignity, charm, a sultry insouciance and total respect for the “bad boy” artist who wrote them. Pianist and musical director James McQuillen accompanies her on keyboards along with cellist Sarah Choi. A feature I wrote about her performance of this cabaret last fall at The Sammons Center for the Arts:

Sheehan performs Nobody’s Hart at the Stone Cottage once more on 3/16. Tickets?  It may already be sold out.

“Circus Tracks” by Outcry Theatre (Main Stage):

Described on New Dramatists’ site ( as “an ensemble fairy tale for adults”, set as “a trunk show” (meaning actors pull costumes and props from assorted luggage scattered about the stage), Sarah Hammond’s “Circus Tracks” tries hard to be ‘edgy’ when it’s terminally episodic and dull. Outcry Theatre’s ensemble must be too young to remember Jean Claude van Itallie’s Obie-winning “The Serpent” from 1969 (“A ceremony written… in collaboration with The Open Theatre under the direction of Joseph Chaikin”), which in style and tone “Circus Tracks” seems to try to emulate, albeit weakly. Imagine  “Lord of the Flies” meets “Alice in Wonderland” in a circus setting where it feels like the same scene repeats over and over and over again with false urgency. Appealing upstage visual projections (Jason Johnson-Spinos) decorate the production, but it’s hard to stay awake for scenery. Hammond has been a resident New Dramatists Playwright since 2007, with substantial national honors under her belt, including a residency at The Royal National Theatre in London. So what gives with this play?

“Circus Tracks” runs again 3/13 at 7:30pm on the Main Stage; but please don’t miss “The Ugly One” in the Studio Theatre at the same time, if you have a choice….

More to come: short reviews of “Purgatorio”, Fort Worth Opera Studio,  “The Elephant in My Closet” and “The Morning After Show” and a full review of the QLive! evocative “Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays” (running again on 3/17 at 5pm).


For tickets and information about WaterTower Theatre’s Out of the Loop Fringe Festival in Addison TX, March 7-17, call 972.450.6232, or visit: 

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