Josh Burton and Rod MacDonald… an irrepressible team at the New Court Theatre

Josh Burton and Rod MacDonald… an irrepressible team at the New Court Theatre

By Edith McCauley

By Edith McCauley

Theater Critic

Opening the summer season at the New Court Theatre on the campus of Beloit College, Josh Burton and Rod MacDonald, the dynamic duo, give theater goers an evening of comedy, nostalgia and the reality of aging in today’s complicated world. Two one-act plays, Eugene O’Neil’s Hughie and David Mamet’s The Duck Variations, are the perfect vehicles for the two talented actors.

Hughie, set in a shabby New York hotel, is the home of Erie Smith (Burton), an inveterate gambler, down on his luck. Hughie is the night manager, whose only friend is dead. The entire play is a monologue that details a strange relationship between the naive clerk and the gambler whose focus in life is “getting over.” Convinced that his luck has vanished with the death of his friend, Erie bemoans his fate. Hughie’s replacement, Charlie (MacDonald), becomes the sounding board for the flawed Broadway con man. Tales of glory fade in the bright light of the real world. Burton keeps the action going with his recreation of a character that we’ve seen many times before.

The Duck Variations showcases Mamet’s genius with language. Two geriatric gentlemen meet in a park on Lake Michigan and define their world by the life and death of the ducks they observe on a daily basis. Irascible and irrepressible, the two old guys represent perfectly the experience of aging. The details enhance exactly. George’s box with his name and 911 embossed in bright red letters is his safety net. Containing everything he needs, including a sandwich and his crossword puzzle book, it represents security in an uncertain world. George (Rod MacDonald) and Imil (Josh Burton) become the beloved characters so much like those in I’m Not Rappaport and Walter Matthau’s and Jack Lemmon’s Grouchy Old Men.

Many friends were there on Saturday supporting two of the area’s favorite actors. The season continues with Sea Marks—June 26-July 14 and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well—July 17-Aug. 4. The theater is located at 134 W. Grand. You can get further information by calling (608) 368-3060.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!