Tuesday, 18 June 2024

'Greater Tuna' offers funny, touching look at modern America

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Eric Patrick and Bill Fredricksson perform in Greater Tuna. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
Somewhere southeast of Lake County ... about 1,200 miles southeast of Lake County ... is a place where everyone knows everyone else's business—and then some. Tuna, Texas, has one radio station, lots of farms and at least 20 very interesting individuals whose lives are tightly intertwined with the rest of the inhabitants of La Salle County.

 

Lake County Repertory Theater last Sunday took a hundred or so from Lake County on a 90-minute visit to Tuna,Texas, where we were introduced to 20 of its unique characters. The story line is wonderful and the humor is non-stop. Add a couple dozen heartfelt meaningful life lessons and any stage production will find a following.


Bring all this to a single set two-act play with just two actors and you have something very special. By the time Bill Fredricksson and Eric Patrick have introduced us to 20 of Greater Tuna's most interesting individuals one realizes that we had actually met, informally for sure, a half dozen others that never see the stage.


A clever story line, a strong production staff as well as sharp direction by Claudia Listman give these two actors the physical tools they need to bring the characters to the stage. What impresses the audience is the subtle lack of unnecessary props and stage tools that may aid an actor with lines or timing. Eric Patrick and Bill Fredriksson simply do not need them.


Most actors need only to memorize dialog for one character and many struggle to remain in character for an entire program, let alone for a series of performances. These guys have 10 individuals wrapped up inside each of them with more than one being multi lingual ... not bad, not bad at all.


Greater Tuna has been performed around the world for 25 years including in the big theaters of New York and as a special series on HBO. It's a funny, touching and sometimes painful look at American modern history, as All in The Family was to TV in the 1970s. Brave are those who honor its original script and story line. Braver still are the performers who bring it to life.


Three opportunities remain to see this production. At the Weaver Auditorium, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and are available at The Main Street Gallery in Lakeport as well as at the Lower Lake School House Museum.


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