A dark secret lurks beneath the surface of The Ties That Bind, a new play by Bill Hass that opened at DVA Productions on Friday. But the challenge for the audience is staying awake long enough to learn what it is.
This soap-opera-ish drama deals with a family in the small Texas town of Hugo and their circle of friends and former lovers.
Early on, we attend a funeral of a recently passed family member, followed by a meeting between Beatrice (DVA founder and artistic director Sheran Keyton) and a local bar owner, Wilford (F Carl Brown). In that meeting, Wilford shocks Beatrice by offering to sell her his bar for just $10. The remainder of the play deals with Beatrice trying to figure out why such a bargain is being offered.
A handful of performances and one strong scene can be salvaged from this otherwise forgettable show, which is being presented at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. Genine Ware does a fine job in her role as Beatrice’s mother, Audrey, despite appearing far too young for the part. She comes through especially well in the play’s best scene, where the reason for the bar sale is revealed.
Also good are three of the younger members of the cast: Camille Monae (Beatrice’s daughter, Crystal), Caleb Ransom (Crystal’s brother, Zee) and Bridie Marie Corbett (Zee’s girlfriend, Barbara).
But, while that trio of actors handle their parts well, their characters contribute nothing to the plot. They are completely superfluous.
This overpopulation is just one of the many problems with this script and this production, directed by Keyton. Another is its stagnant structure, which is too often a scene with two or more people sitting and talking, followed by a scene of two or more people sitting and talking, which moves to another scene of two or more people sitting and talking.
Hass is a fine actor who has done outstanding work at Jubilee Theatre in particular. But as a writer, his script needs a great deal of polishing and editing. He gets no help from Keyton’s painfully sluggish direction.
This show has its one powerful scene, but it is not worth the patience it takes to get to it. What he has given us is more like the chapter of a novel than a stage play.
The Ties That Bind
Through June 28
Fort Worth Community Arts Center
1300 Gendy St., Fort Worth