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Theater review: Small-towners reach for connection in Sundown, Yellow Moon

Sundown, Yellow Moon
Photograph: Ben Arons

★★★☆

To the driven, disciplined Joey (Eboni Booth), the moon looks like the Cheshire Cat's smile; to Ted (Greg Keller), a poet she flirts with down by the reservoir, it suggests a fingernail clipping. Set in a small Southern college town, where Joey and her messier sister Ray (Lilli Cooper) have returned to visit their cranky father, Tom (Peter Friedman), Sundown, Yellow Moon lives in such tensions between the dreamy and the ordinary. It’s the latter, in Anne Kauffman’s production, that registers most strongly.

Rachel Bonds’s short-storyish drama has lovely moments of reconnection, rendered with aching understatement by an excellent cast. Joey remembers a poem that Ted once read as a visitor to her high-school class; Ray, a struggling musician, has residual schoolgirl idol worship for Tom's anger-management counselor, Carter (a touching JD Taylor), who was a senior when she was a freshman and who sang with a rock band that has since gone on to fame and fortune without him. As a whole, the play—which includes several original songs by the indie-folk duo the Bengsons—is oddly shaped and weighted, with a denouement that doesn't seem supported by what proceeds it. But although it doesn’t quite come together in the end, it casts a slender, evocative light.

McGinn/Cazale Theatre (Off Broadway). By Rachel Bonds. Dir. Anne Kauffman. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 40mins. No intermission. Through Apr 1. Click here for full ticket and venue information.

Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam

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