One of the best aspects of independent publishing is that it allows older works to find new audiences. Such is the case with 2 BY SOUTH by Frank South, two one-act plays from the early-‘80s Off Broadway Theater scene. South’s work has the minimalist power of Eugene Ionesco or Samuel Beckett, but is less absurdist/existential and more character-driven. The characters in South’s plays come from a down-home, folksy place, but are haunted by past choices, dashed expectations, and nihilistic thoughts.
“Precious Blood” is a dark tale of rape culture and backwoods secrets, reminiscent of Sam Shepard’s work featuring Unc, an uneasy blend of kindly avuncular male and alpha sexual predator. Raised under the umbrella of sexual violence, Unc is a closeted rapist. He ends up caring for his eleven-year-old niece, Melody, after his brother and sister-in-law die. Connie, a nurse from the Big Sister program, grows close to Unc and Melody and helps tell their story. There is no happy ending to “Precious Blood,” only an assurance the cycle of sexual violence will continue rolling over the innocent.
“Rattlesnake In A Cooler” is a one-man show that feels like Eric Bogosian channeling one of Joe R. Lansdale’s East Texan redneck characters. This is a funky tale of a buttoned down veterinarian named Doc who shucks his day job to become a rodeo cowboy. But reality doesn’t meet his expectations and a night of bravado drinking with the good ol’ boys turns murderous. Doc must own up to — and pay the price for — his questionable life choices.
Both “Precious Blood” and “Rattlesnake In A Cooler” are one act plays that emphasize minimalism and metaphor. These are the type of haunting productions found in off-Broadway black box theaters. Indeed, South’s plays come from that early-80s era of experimental theater. Some heavy hitters have helped bring “Precious Blood” and “Rattlesnake In A Cooler” to life; director Robert Altman, and actors Afre Woodard and Leo Burmester to name a few. Hopefully 2 BY SOUTH will find a new audience and new life on stage.
Frank South’s two one-act plays “Precious Blood” and “Rattlesnake In A Cooler” deliver a powerful punch, delving into dark themes and troubled characters.
~Rob Errera for IndieReader