I struggled with Kathleen Akerley‘s production of Sam Shepard‘s The Tooth of Crime after I saw it last weekend. The play is a fascinating time capsule of how much danger and possibility pop music, and rock and roll specifically, must’ve still had when Shepard wrote it back in 1972. That gives it a charm that partially compensates for the fact the (apparently) postapocalyptic world it’s set in is so cryptic and thinly drawn.
If you’re going to see it — and Tom Carman‘s performance is a good reason to, though you’ll have to stick around past intermission to see him — you’ll want to glance at the synopsis on Shepard’s official site or the play’s Wikipedia page first. I almost always do advance reconnaissance on a show I’m reviewing anyway, because you know, I’m a stone pro over here. But generally speaking, one shouldn’t need a synopsis just to be able to follow what’s happening.
(Irrelevant thing I learned: A 2006 revival of Shepard’s original version of the play — that is, not the revised mid-90s script that the production I reviewed uses — starred Ray Wise, who I actually had lunch with once. He treated me to his impression of Paul Verhoeven, who directed him in RoboCop, saying now I suppose that we are fucked! Nice guy, Ray Wise.)