I recommend seeing “Wild Dust” during its last weekend at the Phoenix Theatre and, like watching a good storm, you’ll see a tempest of a story on stage.
I was a little surprised by the show because I went expecting a rip-roaring comedy but instead went away really enjoying the well-written characters and the involved plot that unfolded naturally and with lots of powerful revelations.
Sure there were funny parts, as with anyPhoenix production. But the story line ran deeper and darker than just labeling this as a comedy.
The story is set in a small western town in the 1880s where brothels operated as per the norm and, in this case, was the town’s only brick building.
Brick was necessary because of the historic dust storm that was blowing outside. The storm has forced all the towns’ men folk to drive their cattle to calmer territory while the women were left behind to hold up in the safety of the town’s toughest building.
There are eight women and one man, a mystery man who finds the brothel a refuge from the storm. Oh and there’s one other man, if you count the corpse.
Well, you do have to count the corpse because the ladies who run the brothel are trying to hide the corpse because one of them caused the man to become a corpse and now the women suspect the stranger is a marshal.
Trying to hide the body is the mad-cap part. The richer part of the story lies beneath the surface of these characters.
And like flesh on a bone that’s been left out in a sand-blasting dust storm, the second act removes the outer layers of these characters to reveal the secrets that lie inside.
I won’t ruin these secrets for you. Go see the show and you will be riveted during the second act.
I will say that all the acting was very good.
Veteran Phoenix performer Melanie Calderwood delivered her usual strong performance as Marionand also did lots of the heavy lifting when it came to the comedy.
Susan Connors did a great job turning the dislikable Louise Styles into a sympathetic character. Megan McKay as her daughter Gert was outstanding as a young girl trying to figure things out (“I just learned that whiskey is a vegetable!”).
Shoshana T. Glick developed the sulky Denise quite well. Julie Hoang was a powerhouse with cleavage as Sally. Kenna M. Kettrick was delightful as the ditzy Belle. Danette Meline’s role as Hard Cora was just tough enough.
Christine Mosere gets double kudos as blind Rebecca and filling in along with Rick Wright as co-director when the original director became unavailable.
Austin Gregory as mystery man Cooper was the perfect guy to put in the middle of this tempest. He played off all the women with the skill of a man who is comfortable in his skin.
Also the sets and costumes were spot on.
I hope the cast really enjoys their last weekend with “Wild Dust,” not rushing things and savoring their lines and comic moments on stage. I know the audience will enjoy watching where the wind blows this story.
“Wild Dust” performs at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through March 3, Phoenix Theatre,9673 Firdale Ave.,Edmonds. Tickets are $18.50 and $15.50. Call 206-533-2000 or go to The Phoenix Theatre.