Conspiracy Theory Story Lacks Strategy
Some stories just don’t translate well to the stage. I think that may be the case with Yankee Tavern. The plot itself seems very intriguing: who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? Yet the dialogue seems to bog down before the mysteries unwind.
Yankee Tavern starts the evening with great potential. The four characters seem interesting when you first meet them. Ray is the old curmudgeon who believes every conspiracy theory, from 9-11 to JFK. Adam is the owner of a failing soon-to-be torn down tavern and is also a master’s student. He’s engaged to Janet who hangs out with him at the bar to discuss wedding plans. Palmer is the silent stranger who drops in for two drinks. One would think that conspiracy theories and ghosts would make for an interesting evening.
But what do people do in a bar? They talk. So this is Ray ranting about conspiracies, while Janet and Adam ask questions to try to understand him. All three are generally in disagreement. And soon, the ranting becomes tiresome and it all sounds repetitive. There is little action, just talk.
The play begins with promise—there were even a few laugh-out-loud moments: a joke about a cunning linguist, and some funny conspiracy theories linking Yoko Ono to the Bay of Pigs to Jimmy Hoffa.
But after that, the laughs dwindle and the characters seem disconnected. There’s lack of chemistry, possibly because you soon see that the young couple should never marry.
Nicholas Campbell, well-known from TV’s Da Vinci’s Inquest, received entrance applause from the opening night audience when he came on stage as Ray. Certainly he is perfect in the role of the crusty old vagrant. He can handle the monologues, but unfortunately his rants are sometimes difficult to follow. His relationship with the young couple seems implausible, and it times the audience couldn’t hear or understand their responses. Perhaps more creative direction is needed to draw the audience into the convoluted story.
Yankee Tavern continues at the Grand Theatre until March 2nd. Tickets are available at the Grand box office, 519-672-8800, or visit www.grandtheatre.com.