BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW
“Harrison, TX: Three Plays by Horton Foote” offers contrasting postcards from the late American master's fictional hometown.
The trilogy of short plays now on view at 59E59 Theaters include a comedy (“Blind Date”), a melodrama (“The One-Armed Man”) and a wistful character study (“The Midnight Caller”).
Relatively slight but delightfully representative works, they are best enjoyed by theatergoers who appreciate the subtly tender mercies of Foote's small town folks and their plainspoken eloquence.
Sensitively directed by Pam MacKinnon, Primary Stages' lovely new production features several expert interpreters of the playwright's oh-so-natural regional charms, including his daughter, Hallie Foote.
The actress can be seen at her gently humorous best in “Blind Date” as she plays Dolores, a faded, middle-aged beauty who sets up a truculent teenaged niece (Andrea Lynn Green, amusingly snarky) with a reluctant gentleman caller.
“Boys need someone peppy to talk to,” vainly counsels the genteel Dolores even as she neglects her own hungry husband (Devon Abner) to provide a list of likely topics for chit-chat.
In sharp contrast, “The One-Armed Man” occurs in a different part of Harrison in the same year when the self-satisfied owner of a cotton gin (Jeremy Bobb) tries to dodge an encounter with an angry former employee (Alexander Cendese) who was maimed in a work accident. A surprisingly dark, stark work from the playwright, the brief drama concludes tragically.
Time advances for “The Midnight Caller,” which takes place in 1952 in a nice boarding house run by kindly Mrs. Crawford (Foote again, now being a quietly empathetic landlady). A newcomer fleeing a broken romance, the sorrowful Helen (Jenny Dare Paulin) scandalizes a prickly boarder (Mary Bacon) and troubles the other lodgers when her old beau (Cendese) persists in drunkenly howling in their front yard.