ACME’S DOLORES RAIN IS LOUD, FLASHY, DERIVATIVE

From: The Miami Herald
Date: July 21, 1989
Author: Christine Dolan

The spirits of Indians — and of Tennessee Williams, Sam Shepard and David Mamet — are alive if not entirely well this week in the Acme Acting Company’s world premiere production of Janyce Lapore’s Dolores Rain.

The play, which is the first offering in Acme’s three-week new play festival in its performance space at Miami Beach’s Strand Restaurant, combines Mamet’s penchant for obscenity, Shepard’s love of myth and violent confrontation, and a maddened and emasculating Williams-style mama — but the result is only sporadically intriguing.

Dolores Rain (Kathleen Emrich) is a tough-talking, middle- aged mama who is loath to cut the umbilical cords, much less the apron strings, that bind her two grown sons to her.

She has managed to keep the stuttering, slightly dim Cassie (Gino Cabanas) close by and under her crushing thumb. But Johnny (Chaz Mena), who seems the reincarnation of the drunken Indian husband who long ago got wise and abandoned Dolores — well, Johnny’s gone off and got himself hitched to a silent Southern gal who does nothing but sit in their bedroom and paint her toenails scarlet.

Johnny has brought his bride (who is much-discussed and who ultimately perishes without ever making an appearance) back on the bus to beg Mama for $400 to get set up in his intended career as a novelist. (Sure, he could have saved the dough he spent on two bus fares and avoided the whole incestuous quagmire that is his mother, but then Lapore wouldn’t have had a play.)

Dolores, however, has other ideas. Though she’s a poor- woman’s Hugh Hefner — her favored attire is a tattered blue terry cloth bathrobe, even for takeout trips to Burger King — Dolores is determined to seduce Johnny back into her life on a full-time basis, little scarlet-toed wife be damned.

I don’t envy any actress the challenge of breathing credible life into such a lunatic, but Emrich is wildly out of control. Her Dolores finds and strikes every false note the playwright has composed for her, and rather than being seductive, she seems in need of being sedated. At least she’s already dressed for the trip to the psychiatric ward.

Mena and Cabanas are less interesting when acting with Emrich than when they’re on their own. Director Juan F. Cejas has guided Mena to a charged, highly physical performance that would be at home in Orphans or almost any Shepard play. Cabanas is funny and twitchy, his work full of subtle and appealing touches. The production is classic Acme — loud, flashy theater for the rock-and-roll generation. Lapore, a Pittsburgh playwright who now lives in Hollywood, has done some of her loveliest, most poetic writing in the characters’ pre-recorded monologues. She’s a woman with talent, but her own voice seems too muffled by the echoes of others in Dolores Rain.

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