BWW Review: RED SCARE Leaves a Solid Foundation behind at The Dougherty Arts Center in Austin, TX.

BWW Review: RED SCARE Leaves a Solid Foundation behind at The Dougherty Arts Center in Austin, TX.

The title RED SCARE, refers to a time in America following World War II, when the promotion of widespread fear of communism, anarchism and radical leftism was spreading and seeping into the American dream. Perpetuating the RED SCARE in the Houston Texas school system were the Minute Women - as described by Texas Comedies, "these women were a group of suburban anti-communist crusaders" with their hawk-eyes narrowed in on a new Oregonian principle with an apparent communist agenda. Peppering in a federal influence, Texas Comedies elects to bring in a rather goofy undercover agent to coerce the school's drama teacher to spy on his beatnik group of friends for any leads on red related activity. As the play unfolds on the surface, this premise is rather funny, and highlighting the story are musical numbers with live band accompaniment. However, while sounding good on paper, the songs and storytelling written by Texas Comedies regretfully falls flat.

With minimal choreography opening in the first song, which depicts the "worried" people in Houston, the repetitive lyrics and movement is a fair representation of the rest of the show. Most characters performed individual ballets and songs describing an attribute of themselves, but these musical moments did little to progress the plot of the story onstage. The songs were quick, repetitive, and overall meaningless. This, in addition to rather confusing scenes between characters with uncertain motivations, left the audience confused. The ensemble of actors however, were indeed talented making the most of the written material with their vocal talent and comedic timing. The most entertaining scenes were driven by the comedic timing of Heath Allyn (Agent) and Carl Guthrie (George Ebey) tugging at each other regarding the desire of getting/giving information on the communist tendencies of Houston's local artist scene. The writing of the other characters provided what they wanted, but not why they respectively wanted what they were seeking. This created a limited performance and little to no real story arc written into the show.

Original comedies are difficult. Original musical comedies are very difficult and unfortunately for John Cecil & Texas Comedies, RED SCARE missed the mark on both. Original work is important in the Austin community theatre scene and Texas Comedies should be applauded for their effort and daring to conceive and stage an original work. Hopefully, future work produced by Texas Comedies will have clear and concise storytelling easier for their audiences to enjoy and follow.

RED SCARE

By: John Cecil & Texas Comedies

Dougherty Arts Center

February 22nd - March 3rd 2018

Photo Credit: Greg Risley

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