The opening-night performance of Broom Street Theater's Dancing in Cleo's Café was a bit uneven with a few flubbed lines, though I got the sense that these issues would be smoothed out during the course of the show's run. Cassi Harris' play could have used some editing (the padded bleachers started getting mighty uncomfortable about two hours in), but there were some real gems scattered throughout the play: authentic exchanges of dialogue, genuinely affecting monologues and some snippets of humor, including musings on the wonders of Mary Kay and a spirited assessment of country singer Lorrie Morgan's breasts.
Cleo (Liz Mael) owns a diner (a very realistic set) and has served as sort of a surrogate mother to a ragtag group of regulars whose quirky behavior seems to have frightened off other customers. With her sweetly soothing demeanor she has developed symbiotic relationships with four customers. Beau (John Sable) is a volatile Yosemite Sam-like alcoholic who is actually an attentive caregiver to his friend Ray (charismatic Tom Collins), a blind amputee who is still haunted by trauma endured in the Vietnam War. Jason Engle (with convincing physicality) is Lonny, a former high school football star who is now institutionalized for schizophrenia. Pete (Francisco C. Torres) is Lonny's new roommate at the Pinebrook home and is responding well to Clozaril, his latest anti-psychotic medication. He is awkwardly testing out his new life while hiding secrets from his past.
While I resented the melodramatic crescendo of events in the final scenes, I was impressed with the cast's portrayals.