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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Granted the play leaves you with a " Did that just. . .?& Am I to understand that. . .";kind of wrap-up. Whether you choose to chew on said issues on your way out of the Ford Amphitheatre parking lot is, up to you. In other words, you are free to decide.
Our title character is a simple minded soul named Marshall Gunther who has the ability &mdash not controllable, apparently &mdash to float above the ground for a couple of minutes at a time. As a result, Marshall's longtime friend and exploiter Stoney Madonna, takes Marshall, AKA "Free" to carnivals and exhibition halls in rural towns and charges admission to the miracle.
At the beginning of the play, we learn that Stoney has expanded his earnings potential by offering floating lessons. "I don't give lessons," a terrified Free wails, hiding under the mattress of the seedy motel room where the entire play takes place. In fact, Free would just as soon dispense with his ability at all. He wants to be normal, to earn a paycheck cleaning motel rooms, a suggestion that the motel's hugely grounded maid Patsy (Jane McPherson) thinks is a fine idea.
Of course, if he loses Free, Stoney loses his meal ticket. What's more, Stoney argues, the human race loses its proximity to an actual miracle. Conclude for yourself whether hucksterism or altruism is of greater importance, but considering Greg Albanese's coveting and vaguely greasy rendering, the former seems the better bet.
Stoney's not the only one with a, ahem, rather intense interest in Free and floating. Althea Turlock (Dagney Kerr), a dissatisfied housewife who caught the act, bursts into Free's room like a religious zealot demanding a lesson and claiming that she too can float. Floating, i.e. leaving the earth, is meant to be a metaphor for escape from the mundane. How lovely it must be to be Free the Unbound.
Perhaps it's my too literal, metaphor-unfriendly brain at work here, but apart from some rather lofty pronouncements, Lindsay never makes clear what exactly is the solid gold upside to levitating unless you can then somehow figure out a way to, oh, sprout wings? There's something rather delicious about Reid's Free, an elfin little man with a great mane of a gray beard and a shirt that couldn't stay tucked in if you super-glued it to his trousers. This character veritably screams, "protect me, don't hurt me!" He does not scream "Prophet" or "Savior."
Under Worthington's direction, if characters are not declaiming, they're rolling around on the floor, underscored by a cartoony soundtrack, like something out of a farce. This happens twice, both times involving &mdash not surprisingly &mdash Kerr's Althea who comes across far more deranged than desperate.
Through a rather neat effect that does not appear to use wires, Free does indeed leave the ground. He floats. The play that bears his name, however, most certainly does not soar.