Cowboy talk and lots of laughs

By Rajkhet Dirzhud-Rashid
Staff Writer

I've seen Joseph Yang and David Hsieh in a couple of other Repertory Actors Workshop productions - ReAct is currently using the NWAAT space for two plays - and I always considered them very talented. But I never knew just how talented until last week, when they portrayed Texas rednecks Roy and Ray Calder. The image I have of cowboys will never be the same.

Actually, the play featuring Yang and Hsieh, Lone Star by James McLure, was the second of the evening, but clearly the more memorable. Not that McLure's Laundry and Bourbon lacked in any way. In fact, actresses Gigi Jhong, Lisa Marie Nakamura and Liane Loui were truly brilliant. It was a bit apparent, though, that playing Texas belles was a bit of a stretch for these fine talents. Best at this sleight-of-hand magic was Loui, a sure winner if a Miss Southern Belle Bitch of the Year Award is ever created. Think of that Bobby Gentry song and the whole kit and caboodle of gossipy, status-hungry ladies and you get the idea. Nakamura's hilarious, deadpan humor provided the perfect counterpoint.

But, oh, those guys! They were both to die for in their roles as a Vietnam veteran (Hsieh) who returns to his small town and his innocent younger brother. Yang was very convincing as a guy whose greatest joy in life comes from eating candy bars and pretending to be as sexually knowledgeable as his older brother.

Enter Cletis, played with achingly poignant humor by Hing Lam, the town nerd, now married to Miss Southern Bitch from the earlier play. Each play interlocks, both telling the stories of the men and women of a small town in a familiar and believable way. Characters from each overlap and develop the stories introduced in Laundry. ReAct's ambitious casting, which had Asians portraying rednecks, lent each production a different spin, one that would have been missing had the director used more traditional casting.

To find out how funny these performers are, you'll have to see them for yourself. After a summer missing these delightful folks, it was good to have them back for two such splendid shows

September 16, 1994


© 1994 Seattle Gay News. Reprinted with permission by ReAct.

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