Feature

Review of reviews: Stage

Plainsong

Plainsong
Stage Theater, Denver
(303) 893-4100

★★★★

This adaptation of the best-selling novel by Kent Haruf is “a paean to the strength of a place and the people who live there,” said Bob Bows in Variety. Set in the mythical town of Holt, Colo., Plainsong unpacks the lives of multiple characters—36, to be exact—dealing with the hardscrabble facts of modern life in the rural American West. Mike Hartman and Philip Pleasants are the play’s “emotional center” as cattle ranchers Raymond and Harold McPheron, who take in a displaced, pregnant 17-year-old, and Tiffany Ellen Solano shines as the shy and introspective transient, who charms the audience and the old ranchers. But that’s just one of many subplots. Under director Kent Thompson’s deft management, the 46-scene, three-hour-long play rivetingly “taps the rural integrity of the American ethos.”

The play may be a little long, but this production is “satisfyingly executed in nearly every conceivable way,” said John Moore in The Denver Post. Here in three acts is the whole of small town living, a kind of how-to (and how-not-to) on sharing life with others to whom one is tenuously yet unavoidably tied. Plainsong deserves plaudits “for being harrowing, then heartbreaking, and finally for being just some kind of wonderful.” A blessedly untidy ending leaves the audience ruminating what Haruf means when he says, “You have to know how to look at this country. It’s not pretty, but it’s beautiful.”

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