Night Over Taos
Thu Oct 11 2007
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
DADDY MAY CARELandron, center, worries about his sons.
Hounds nip at the heroes’ heels at the start of Anderson’s 1932 historical drama, and three hours later the dogs of war still await their entrance. That’s because in dusting off the tale of a little-remembered 1847 revolt against the U.S. conquest of New Mexico, Anderson was less interested in the battle itself than in its timeless resonances: as an allegory for an overextended empire doomed by hubris, as an Oresteian family tragedy, as an argument between democracy and feudalism.
Talky as all that may sound, Estelle Parsons’s straightforward revival showcases the playwright’s rock-solid dramaturgical craft and intermittent versifying to appealing advantage. As the town’s swaggering patriarch, Pablo Montoya, Jack Landron makes a stirring, beautifully set-up entrance at the end of Act I, bringing to a boil a simmering internecine struggle among his sons: pragmatic, scheming Federico (Bryant Mason) and hunky, good-hearted Felipe (Mickey Solis). Montoya is a compellingly tragic figure; neither Mexican nor American, he’s a doomed relic of Spanish feudalism. This fascinating twist allows the play to mine a rich vein of postcolonial nuances and complications, though Night Over Taos is also preoccupied with a tedious, soap-opera-like sexual triangulation.
Landron’s sympathetic and finely shaded performance stands at the helm of a motley, variously styled supporting cast of about two dozen, which mills and lurks about the stage to evocative if ragged effect. The result feels more festive than epic, which isn’t far amiss; this play’s rescue from the archives is cause for celebration.