Take Her to See the Maco Lights at Prologue Theatre Company | Theater review
Bekah Brunstetter’s time-hopping drama is buoyed by the actors’ chemistry.
Stoned and wandering the woods of Maco, North Carolina, after her grandmother’s death, Rachel (LaNisa Frederick) discovers a guitar-playing Boy (John Wehrman) with a mysterious connection to her past. At the abandoned train track that took the lives of two of Rachel’s ancestors, she and the Boy try to see the mystical Maco lights, mirroring the experience that Rachel’s grandmother Mattie (also Frederick) had in the same spot in 1957. There’s nothing especially revelatory about Bekah Brunstetter’s 2011 drama, but the actors’ chemistry makes up for the script’s lack of originality.
Most of the play takes place in the past, where the son of Mattie’s boss has trouble showing public affection toward his father’s black secretary. Their courtship is pleasant, albeit formulaic; having a character point out the cliché of a moonlit dance to “I Only Have Eyes for You” doesn’t make it any less of one. But as the play progresses, Mattie and James Jr. break down into stereotypes. James Jr.’s decisions toward the end of the play don’t seem to jell with the man we’re shown at the top. His change in character is convenient to the plot rather than grounded in emotion.
Dylan Marks’s set design captures the remote, ethereal quality of the train track, and director Margo Gray keeps the actors moving through the open space to give the script added momentum. Frederick and Wehrman bring a youthful sweetness to their characters. During the quiet scenes when they show their affection, Maco Lights shines brightest.