Theater archives

Love Tries to Grow in the Phoenix Desert


Sue and Bruce meet drunk, not cute. Sloshed at a bar, they soon fall into bed. That one-night stand sets off a series of complications in Scott Organ’s formulaic two-hander Phoenix, staged by the Barrow Group after an appearance at this year’s Humana Festival. Dusty Brown plays Bruce, a goofy, bearded guy who finds himself improbably enamored of DeAnna Lenhart’s brusque, swan-necked Sue. He digs her, she rebuffs him, and much bland, semi-comic dialogue ensues. In a vulnerable moment, Sue admits, “I’m so standoffish, because I like you, too!” “If this is like,” he replies, “I’d hate to see what you do with love.” Ha ha.

Though the plot arc is more or less clear from the first moments, Organ’s script often meanders or digresses into cutesy repartee. Yet there are also hints here of something better, like the nicely matter-of-fact discussion of abortion or the tenderness of the final scene. Of course, this romance might have run a more successful course had director Seth Barrish cast actors with greater mutual chemistry. Temperatures in Phoenix, where much of the play is set, often reach 120 degrees. But these characters don’t seem hot for each other at all.