The Column Online



by Michael Parker

ONSTAGE in Bedford

Directed by Alex Krus
Stage Manager – Adam Livingston
Sound Design – Josh Gray, Alex Krus
Lighting Design – Brian S. Douglas
Set Design – Jim Scroggins, Alex Krus

Melody – Madyson Greenwood
Jarvis – Mike Hathaway
Patrice Leadley – Elizabeth Conly
Michael Leadley – Robert San Juan
Mr. Oakland – Andrew Manning
Tammy-Jo Harper – Lyndi Wade
Mary-Lou Winston – Alexandra Taliaferro

Reviewed Performance: 4/27/2018

Reviewed by Richard P. Buswold, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

A Benny Hill style sex farce written by a British author that now lives in Texas. That in and of itself should make you want to see this show. A quick synopsis of the play is that Edward Stancliffe, the wealthy owner of a 20,000 acre Texas ranch, has died. His house staff, only living relative, neighbor and his lawyer assemble for the reading of the will. Once that is accomplished, Jarvis, delightfully played by Mike Hathaway, enters with a secret that was only to be revealed after the will was read. A mysterious love potion, not mentioned in the will, has been left to them. But this is not like other love potions as it does not affect the person who drinks it. Rather, this powerful aphrodisiac causes the consumer to give off an almost imperceptible odor to the opposite sex - with devastating effects.

When a rainstorm floods the nearby creek and forces the guests to stay overnight in the mansion, they secretly test the love potion on each other. The mystery comes from trying to decide if the potion really works, if it's a scam or just something dear old Uncle Eddie left behind as a joke.

This is a farce with all the required players, the womanizer, the nerd, the ditz, the dandy, the dweeb, the good ol' girl and that one person who is so level-headed and bland that it is easier to rope her into the shenanigans than it should be.

The script is touted as a Benny Hill type of sex-romp comedy. For me the script was unimaginative, over-used and honestly, not that funny. Thankfully the actors on stage at OnStage took those bland words and forced the funny out of them. Overall, their bits and stunts made up for the lack of comedic dialogue. Except for Madyson Greenwood as Melody, the blonde ditz of a maid who has trouble, well, standing for one. She falls. She spills. She trips. She has wardrobe malfunctions but for the most part they are contrived and unnatural. She is supposed to be a clutz but she is clumsy at being a clutz.

Elizabeth Conly and Robert San Juan play the Leadleys, Stancliffe's niece and husband and only living relative. They match beautifully as a couple that has been married maybe a bit too long and Elizabeth does a wonderful job in making us wonder why they were ever married in the first place. San Juan does a great job of bringing out that guy who is always more interested in sexual conquest than pretty much anything else. You know the type. The guy other guys bring to the club so they'll look like the better choice to the ladies.

The other two male roles are Jarvis, the dandy butler played by Hathaway and Oakfield, the dweeb lawyer who has plenty of secrets of his own. One of which will cause you to wonder what life choices had to be made to get him to the rather plum situation he is in. Andrew Manning, looks the part, sounds the part and plays the dweeb very well. Even when Mr. Oakfield has to be a stronger upstanding person, Manning still has the dork factor visible and it is hilarious. Jarvis on the other hand is one note. He is prim and proper and looks at most people with contempt. Hathaway does not change until the absolute end of the show to reveal that he was probably the most devious of anybody in the house.

My favorite characters were Mary-Lou and Tammy-Jo. Alexandra Taliaferro and Lyndi Wade respectively play the two women most affected by the love potion. Their "sexual antics" are funny, over-the-top comedy bits that make for the show's highlights. Mary-Lou's nerdy, repressed sexuality is good for a laugh or three compared to Tammy-Jo's up-for-anything attitude with a sexuality that is anything but repressed. I also like the choice of costuming for these two ladies although each could have gone a bit sexier with their lingerie. Jarvis was a British butler in Texas and he was dressed in silks and polyesters instead of wools and tweeds. That bothered me just a bit.

The set at OnStage this year does not change. The walls, windows and doors will be the same for each show there is year so the dressing is what matters. This show was dressed out with the very normal things, a bar, a couch, chair and a bed that wasn't really a bed. The thing that made it was the taxidermy on the walls which is exactly what you would expect to see in a millionaire Texas rancher's mansion.

The good news for OnStage is they have finally installed their much-needed lighting upgrade so the whole show looked better from the audience. I can't wait for them to produce a show now that requires special lighting effects.

"Lone Star Love Potion" is a sex farce that is not as sexy, nor bawdy as it could have been. It is not as inherently funny either but the actors take what they have and make it into an enjoyable couple of hours with some definite LOL moments.

"Lone Star Love Potion" plays through May 13th at OnStage in Bedford in the Bedford Boys Ranch.
Friday/Saturday Evening Curtain 8:00
Sunday Matinee 3:00
Tickets $17 - $22
To purchase tickets, visit The Box Office is open one hour prior to performances.