Tumbleweed noir - Page 2

In his first play, Dennis Lehane mines dark mysteries in flyover country

He and Deaverman share some of the play's more tense, tripwire moments.

At the same time, Bobby's worried reiterations concerning his psychopathic father — in flashbacks with girlfriend Gwen (a vivacious Rebecca Schweitzer) that set up for us the bungled heist as well as the blood-quenched well of emotional turmoil between father and son — seem overdone. The Bobby and Gwen story, meanwhile, barely compels. More moving is the resolution achieved between patient and shrink, as Ross and Parnell transition gracefully from fearfully menacing one another to divulging secrets and vulnerabilities and, finally, offering each other small but meaningful gestures of support.

Like a tipsy raconteur, Lehane's morality tale starts to lean heavily on the bar by the end, with a graveside breakdown that is too predictable and sentimental to really grab us. Then again, the denouement back in the old barroom itself (by now grown quite familiar if not familial) has a certain low-key classical appeal.


Through April 26

Wed–Sat, 8 p.m. (also Sat, 3 p.m.), $20–$38

SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter, SF

(415) 677-9596, www.ticketweb.com

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