Indian Blood

By - Nov 19th, 2007 02:52 pm
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By Carrie Beilke

Without awkward family gatherings, the holidays would just be a time to eat turkey and spend too much time at the mall. The Boulevard Theater’s presentation of A.R. Gurney’s Indian Blood is an intimate peek into one such Christmas, with plenty of dysfunctional family members, arguments and wholesome helpings of Americana to go around.

This memory play, set in the late 1940s, is sparsely dressed with plain wooden chairs. There are no other props and actions are mimed. To keep things light- hearted and remind us of the Christmas spirit, carols sung by Caitlin Kujawski cue the scene changes.

High school student Eddie (played by actual high school student Joseph Redemann) does heavy lifting as both the narrator of the holiday memory and an instigator of trouble. Eddie’s been kicked out of school, blaming his “Indian Blood,” and though his parents aren’t particularly happy, they try to smooth things over for the Christmas dinner at Grandmother’s. Eddie’s mother, played by Maureen Dornemann, is serene as the out-of-place in-law, kindly reminding her son that there are already plenty of old conflicts at the table.

There’s another twist to this year’s celebration: in a display of charity, Grandmother invites Eddie’s weasel-y cousin Lambert (a pleasantly annoying Hugh Blewett). Lambert isn’t interested in charity, though, and would prefer to use the opportunity to take Eddie down. It may look like an innocent game of musical chairs, but to the boys, it is a battle. These sorts of skirmishes, which pop up all over the drama, are welcome respite from some drearier social commentary – as you might expect from a sketch of the last century, the story at times wavers into confusion as it pokes fun at high society, WASP family values and the decline of the city of Buffalo.

Overall, though, it’s a fun show, so watch your table manners, don’t fill up on the bread, and save room for the homemade pumpkin pie served at intermission. VS

Indian Blood runs at the Boulevard from November 14th through December 2nd. Call 414-744-5757 for ticket information.

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