The Life and Times of Tulsa Lovechild

Bozeman Daily CHRONICLE

Audience exuberant over ‘The Life and Times of Tulsa Lovechild’ 

Posted: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 11:00 pm

Reviewed by Gale Farnsworth for the Chronicle

Actors Theatre of Montana opens their first season with "The Life and Times of Tulsa Lovechild,: an often hilarious, refreshingly intelligent play written and directed by Greg Owens. We first meet Tulsa as she is interviewed for a secretarial job, which alternates with a scene of her youthful parents checking into a motel in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she was subsequently born. Tulsa loses her temper, walks out of the interview, and takes up her mother's request to spread her ashes in the parking lot of the motel.

In quick succession a steady stream of odd characters stride across the stage in a seemingly disparate series of scenes similar to "Saturday Night Live" in its prime. Space allows the mention of only a few. Sylvia, Tulsa's activist, hippie mother, Clyde the lovesick, howling lover of Miss Nebraska, Rosie and Valerie, Siamese twins desperate to escape their conjoined existence, Stockton, a gun-toting member of the CIA, and Tulsa's stepfather, a frustrated Hollywood actor, and a Russian immigrant who owns the motel.

Greg Owens's fluid, precise direction ensures his script's success. In a true ensemble piece, the actors shift Tom Watson's set that perfectly evokes time and place. Cara Wilder delivers a poignant, memorable Tulsa. Joel Jahnke is a standout as Bob, the Russian who loves his motel and Rosie, one of the Siamese twins. His timing and wry humor are reason enough to see this show. Daniel Erickson has great appeal and sincerity as Ed. Will Dickerson's quirky Clyde sniffs out his escaped lover with zeal. Kathy Jahnke and Kathleen Hoberecht give fine performances as Siamese twins, and Tim Williams balances an edgy quality with surprising pathos as Stockton. If only Sylvia had more scenes so that we could watch Dee Dee Van Zyl, an actress with delicious humor and profound heart. In our economic climate, there is nothing more rewarding than an evening of laughter generated by talented actors performing a well-crafted script.