Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Cactus' Full of Ideas but Fails to Bring Them to Fruition

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Cactus' Full of Ideas but Fails to Bring Them to Fruition

Article excerpt

Imagine Romeo and Juliet as unhappy teenage vampires, acting out their doomed love as vigilantes along the Mexican-U.S. border. Or as the Bard might have begun:

Two fam'lies, both alike in vampire blood,

In the Southwest, at night, where lies our scene,

From ancient grudge, so long misunderstood,

Face off in anguished strife with means unclean;

Then from the fatal loins of these two foes,

A pair of star-crossed lovers risk their life,

Subvert old Shakespeare's plot and dare propose

To dream of better than their parents' strife.

Well, you get the idea. Shakespeare starts "Romeo and Juliet" with a full 14-line sonnet in this vein, but this is just a newspaper, so what do you expect?

Meanwhile, over at the Grey Box, you have to hand it to playwright Philip Real for a juicy idea in "Cactus," the premiere of a work in progress. Unfortunately, the result is rather more staid than the presence of vampires' promises. There's more standing around in lovelorn lament or family argument than you'd expect from the fervid poetry and propulsive action of his Shakespearean model.

So ultimately, all "R&J" contributes is the sketch of a plot, which is the least significant thing about it. "Cactus" is really more like the doomy, melancholy vampire stories of popular movies and novels.

Its cleverest idea is that the vampires have been forced into service by the U.S. government to control the border by picking off illegals with their fatal kisses. Unsurprisingly, this work falls mainly to the young attractive vampires. The true villain is the government agent who enforces their quotas. (In spite of the newly made vampires, they seem to be dying out, which I don't understand, although I may have missed something.)

Anyway, Ron (18, but 84 in human years), an idealist who refuses to do border patrol work, meets embittered Julie (17 or 73), who feels trapped by the family job, and tries to get her to run away to somewhere really wonderful, like Las Vegas or New York (no points for imagination, there). …

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