Put three men is a run down motel room in the midst of their respective make-it-or-break-it crises and you get—men behaving badly. The Agency Theater Collective’s Tres Bandidos serves up a boatload of wrangling machismo that digs our hail fellows more deeply into the crisis from which they hope to emerge. They are modern cowboys complete with cell phones, drug debts and racist crimes in their past. Recompense is at hand.
Portrait of The Cowboy as a Young Man
Luke is the greenest of the three men aspiring to a post-military life with a loving wife, a baby on the way and a decent job. His youth is on display when he recounts his favorite cowboy movie—Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. His older motel mates, David and Shep, are of one accord—it’s got to be a Clint Eastwood classic or nothing.
Shep the cool-handed father figure of the three has lost his law enforcement job, his home, his family and perhaps his integrity. Guy Wicke plays Shep with an overriding resignation in his voice.
David, in contrast, is reactive, nervous and ready to explode. He spends at least 50% of his time on stage peering surreptitiously out the motel room drape watching the movement of cars in and out of the parking lot. Most audience members will likely agree with this writer that he is the hardest to like.
Instead of disdain for these men, the playwright, Cody Lucas paints a portrait that elicits empathy. These are men in trouble. Life has gone terribly wrong and they have no skills to seek restitution or resolution. They choose passive aggressive, violent communication, competitive poker playing and sarcastic one-liners against one another on full display.
The Agency Theatre Collective Co-Directors’ Masterful Collaboration
In this writer’s view, Co-directors Cordie Nelson and Jack Schultz have not shied away from a harsh look at maleness. These characters are caricatures of masculinity, but also innocents. Bad choices converge to haunt them in the space of an hour’s encounter in a motel room where their fate will be decided. We see pathetic men deserving of empathy.
Cowboys go down hard in the classics. For these modern cowboys in a more pious and generous era, we’ll want to say, there but for the grace of god go I.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
David: Joe Lino
Luke: Cody Lucas
Shep: Guy Wicke
Co-directed by Cordie Nelson* and Jack Schultz*
Writer: Cody Lucas
Assistant Director: Audrey Gladson*
Stage Manager: Teryl Thurman
Assistant Stage Manager: Cecilie Kvie
Producer/Set Dressing: Marie Weigle*
Technical Director: Manuel Ortiz
Costume Designer: Cristian Esparza
Set Design/Scenic Painter: Chas Mathieu
Sound Design: Ryan Wiechmann
Lighting Design: Ellie Humphrys*
Fight Director: Hannah Tarr*
Weapons Master: Eddy Karch
Dialect Coach: Aram Monisoff
Photographer: Katie Reynolds
*Member of the Agency Collective
Thru September 15, 2018
Thursday-Saturday @ 8PM
Sunday @ 3:00PM
Additional performances 9/2, 9/10, and 9/12 @8PM and 9/8 @2PM
7016 N. Glenwood Avenue
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago
About the Author:
Stephen B. Starr is Principal of Stephen B. Starr Design, Inc., a design and communication consultancy in Evanston, IL. Stephen is a former president of the Chicago Creative Coalition, organizer for the Chicago Weekly Sitting Meditation Group and founded and organized the Chicago Web Professionals for 12 years. Stephen is nurtured creatively by the fine art of story-telling — especially in the theater. As a college journalism major, he has since followed the siren’s call of poetry and short story writing in his free time. He is interested in the wisdom of indigenous spiritual traditions and seeks inspiration in natural settings by gardening, camping, hiking and biking.