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A play by Sean O’Connor
at the 42nd St. Workshop Theatre
Reviewed by Mike Hogan
Urban Nights

What do Little Ricky, Greek Mythology, sex abuse, the Ponderosa, and time travel all have in common? They’re all woven together with some strange, effervescent logic in Sean O’Connor’s wonderful new play Kidnapped, now appearing on Theatre Row.

It’s West Virginia. The time is Now. Marylee (Michelle Bouchard) is running from her abusive father, Joe Buchanan (Danny Rose), the hated President of the local coal mining company. Tyrone (Bill Tobes), a young coal miner wh’s been tormented by Buchanan’s anti-union ways for years, is also running from him.  They both also, in separate incidents, think they have just killed him. (This man never dies.)  They meet in a bar, and within a surreal and strangely beautiful five minutes, they fall wildly in love, and take off across the country to search for a Real America, “the way it used to be.”  But they soon find out that Joe is fast on their heels.

It turns out both of them have a child they think they’ve lost forever. It also turns out that Marylee is related to Betsy Ross, and Tyrone to Daniel Boone.  They decide to head to Carson City, Nevada (home of the Ponderosa) where Betsy and Daniel were reputed to once have had a tryst.  With the crazed Buchanan on their heels, the action gets wilder and wilder as he chases them with helicopters and tanks, and finally catches up with them at Carson City, home to “my good friend, Ben Cartwright.”  But through the help of Jed (Sean O’Connor), a strange, lisping, Jack Daniels-guzzling shaman, they hurtle back in time, where they stumble upon their ancestors, who teach them all they have to know, the “huntin’ and fishin’ for food” and the “sewin’ the clothes.”  They teach them the “ways of the world.”  Buchanan, of course, shows up, there is a battle, they finally forever dispense with him and then they are hurtled some twenty years off into the future, where they find their own children, a young Tyrone and Marylee, about to fall into the same dark fate as their parents. They reveal themselves and teach them, also, the “ways of the world.” And generations continue on.

The language is filled with wild, rural, American poetry. Part Sam Shepard, part Mad Magazine.  The acting is fabulous all around. The comedy is insane but deeply human and heartfelt.  Clark Middleton’s ever-inventive direction is perfect for the wildness of this piece.  It closes this Sunday.  See it.  No matter how wild it gets, you’ll laugh your head off.  And you might even find yourself strangely, surprisingly moved.

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