T Bone N Weasel

Rated 3.0 This odd comedy involves a strange journey through the rural South by two small-time losers living on the margins.T Bone, played by James Ellison, is a car thief. He’s neither mean nor malicious; he just doesn’t see much point in doing long hours of menial labor for a pittance when it’s easier to take what he needs. And he targets the wealthy, who typically try to exploit him first, so there’s a misplaced sense of wayward justice when he takes something. T Bone is also aware that, as a young black man, he faces social barriers, and Ellison does a long, slow burn on this subject. It’s the first time I’ve seen Ellison in a leading role, and he does well in this outing.

T Bone’s sidekick is Weasel (played by University of California, Davis, grad Damion Sharpe). Weasel is basically dependent; he’s also illiterate and appears to have a learning handicap. He comes from a violent, “white trash” background, and he just can’t sit still. Sharpe literally breaks into a sweat and nearly hyperventilates as he thrashes around the stage while words pour out. It’s memorable, but at times, it feels like a little too much of a good thing.

Rounding out the cast is the resourceful JG Gonsalves, who contributes a catalog of memorable cameos. They include: a cagey used-car dealer, a religious fanatic living under a bridge, a wealthy old woman, a classic Southern country sheriff, and a politician on the make. It’s a lot of fun watching Gonsalves make the switch as these characters arrive (and sometimes return).

Director James Wheatley uses a black-box set and handles the play as a sequence of casually related (almost disconnected) scenes—but then, Jon Klein’s meandering script doesn’t have a clear destination in mind. So, if the play ends rather than concludes, it’s probably what the playwright had in mind.