Learning curves

By CAROLYN CLAY  |  May 8, 2008

And the connection between embittered romantic Sam and ebullient hayseed Buck (who is initially unaware of his sexual orientation) must be taken on faith. Albeit a role he helped to create, the tightly wound Sam — whose garland-of-roses tattoo represents beauty and pain threaded through a single needle — doesn’t give the talented Joe Wilson Jr. a lot to work with. Moreover, the character’s attraction to muscular young Appalachian boxer Buck, whom he alleges could “charm the birds from the trees,” isn’t supported by more than an “aw-shucks” enthusiasm and openness — though James Royce Edwards embodies those well enough, also suggesting in “Buck Boxes” the connection between physical combat and sex.

Among the supporting characters, Janice Duclos is a café proprietress dishing up rueful wisdom with the croissants. Stephen Berenson’s Harry is a gay cliché at least allotted an impish wit. Warren brings both vulnerability and smoke to singer Marie — and channels her inner Gwen Verdon in “Yankee Rhythm,” a feverish dance number performed in tights and tuxedo jacket (with the chorus wearing the pants). But this mademoiselle has been around too many Pigalle blocks to be smitten by Frank, a bigoted blockhead edgily played by Mauro Hantman, or to think he’s going to take her home. It’s clear Stephen Thorne’s Patrick is the one to like. In fact, Thorne’s self-effacing third wheel, tumbled backward by a blown kiss, is the most likable thing in a show that’s as tenderly etched as its rose tattoos but unlikely to prove as durable.

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Related: Year in Theater: Staged right, Dying breeds, The History Boys, More more >
  Topics: Theater , Shirley MacLaine, Stephen Berenson, Thomas Hardy,  More more >
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