|Aaron Walker and Jerry Lloyd|
Now in its eighth season, Jewel Theatre Company continues to produce quality professional theatre right in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz. Spearheaded by Artistic Director Julie James, and making use of an ever-expanding gene pool of directors, performers and stage technicians, the company keeps local audiences intrigued with its lineup of often challenging, unexpected material.
Case in point is the new JTC production of Geography of a Horse Dreamer, a lesser-know drama by the iconic Sam Shepard that considers the plight of the artist in a world of commerce, the vagaries of luck, and (as usual, for Shepard) the spectacle of men behaving badly.
Geography of a Horse Dreamer was written in 1974, in the early middle of Shepard's long, prolific career, but still years before his most celebrated work like Buried Child and True West. It feels like a younger man's play, in that it's percolating with ideas, although its themes are not completely thought out or resolved. But it sparks with wit and energy, and offers opportunities for memorable performances and stagecraft, which this production exploits with JTC's usual panache. It's a short play staged with cohesion and clarity by director Nigel Sanders-Self, in which mobsters abduct a hapless young sheep rancher (Aaron Walker) with a "gift" for dreaming the winners of upcoming horse races.
In an excellent cast, Jerry Lloyd is flamboyantly great as the mob boss. But Jackson Wolffe steals the show as his enforcer, The Doctor, with his silky diction and malevolent aplomb. (Read more)