Son Wesley (Paul Dawson), brings a sickly lamb infested with maggots into the family kitchen and urinates on his sister’s 4-H project, a chart illustrating the process of dissecting a frying chicken. Meanwhile, mother Ella (Deborah Hedwall) has eaten the chicken meant for her daughter’s demonstration, and engaged in a shady deal with a crooked real estate agent to sell the family farm and move to Europe. In order to pay a multitude of old debts, it seems Weston (Jude Ciccolella), the abusive and drunken father, has passed over the house deed for a paltry sum to the owner of a local saloon. Weston sobers up and heads for Mexico, with murderous creditors in hot pursuit.
The Shepard landscape, with its lacerating edge, was around long before “Fargo” and “Sling Blade,” and the playwright’s bitter vision strongly survives. Ciccolella brings a frightening sweaty stupor to the role of Weston, and Dawson invests Wesley with a tragic intensity that deftly underscores the family futility. With saucer eyes, Cleevely, as the wayward daughter, reveals a chilling prediction of unharnessed horror.
The stark kitchen set by E. David Cosier offers only a table and its chairs, a gleaming stove and the unyielding refrigerator, Shepard’s white allegorical monster of the starving class.