Orange County Theatre Reviews

Written by Patrick Chavis 

The Man That Shot Liberty Valance at the Attic Theatre is a remake and reimagining of the classic, 1962 John Wayne film of the same name. With a very talented cast and intermittently fantastic direction, the play hits the dramatic points, the obvious story flaws in Jethro Compton’s script drags down the show.     

The play centers around bar owner Hallie Jackson (Stephanie Garrison).  Bert Barricune (Michael J. Keeney), a gunslinger and an admirer of Hallie, drags a nearly dead Ransom Foster (Mark Tillman) into her bar. Foster wakes up and discovers the infamous outlaw Liberty Valance (Robert Dill) shot him. Instead of getting revenge Foster decides instead to teach Jo Mosten (Angela Watson) the African-American store worker and Hallie how to read.  The drama intensifies as Liberty finds out Foster is still alive and is intent on causing more trouble.

Liberty Valance (Robert Dill)

This play has three main storylines. One is the story about Joe learning how to read.  The other two plot lines are the love triangle between Foster and Barricune and the inevitable return of the dangerous Liberty Valance. Sadly, Compton fails to properly balance the storylines.   He did not give them all equal weight and it made the play much longer then it needs to be. Compton reduces one of the main storylines and a character involved, into a mere plot point in the story.

Even with scripting that misses the mark in my eyes, Director Paladion brings to the stage a game cast and is able at times to elevate this generic Western to greater heights.

The performance by Liberty Valance (Robert Dill) was tense and psychotic in all the right ways. Angela Watson (Jo Mosten) is a perfect counterpoint to his devilish intensity and excellent throughout the entire production.  Hallie Jackson (Stephanie Garrison) fits the character through and through and kept the romantic parts of the storyline interesting. 

Although the storyline could use a rewrite with a more focused storyline, lovers of westerns and romances with a little patience will enjoy this production now playing at Attic Theatre.

Sep 28 – Oct 21, 2018 

Above Average!
7.7 Overall
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