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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Life + Arts

Play infuses Texas spirit

A shouting match between mother and daughter in thick southern drawls starts off the comedic play Buy One, Get Five Free. The colorful family creates turmoil in a small West Texas trailer while bearing the summer heat of the Fourth of July in this highly animated production written by Amy Lanasa and directed by Stephen Wallace.

The play begins at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays through April 19 at the Jose Quintero Theatre.

Lanasa emphasizes the traditional Texan dialect and language that the characters do not shy away from but use to the fullest extent, even if it includes an angry argument or a round of curse words.’

The small set, designed by Stephen Jones, gives a real feel for a compact trailer with an interior full of what the character Momma calls ‘stuff’ such as board games and glitzy wall ornaments, in addition to cigarette butts scattered across the front lawn.

The characters come across as extremely memorable and each one demonstrates the personality of an individual in this particular Texas region.’

Rowanne, played by Miranda Herbert, becomes an overly anxious agoraphobic who assures everyone her husband disappeared on their honeymoon skydiving trip, even when some people think he may have forgotten to pull his chute. She scolds her flamboyant Momma, played by Carolyn Houston Boone, for her denial of having a gambling addiction to Bingo.’

And when Momma tries to be responsible, she never stops carrying out comical antics that may not seem appropriate for the mother of the house, but easily wins the audience.

This play should also be noted for its unusual entrances and exits of people in the trailer. The most unusual and funniest entrance is the arrival of The Banana Man, or Ralphie (Chris Egging), spinning through the door decked out in a banana suit he proudly wears at his new job. Along with Momma’s acts, he offers the most asinine commentary of all the characters. He longs romantically for Rowanne and incorporates banana splits into his discussion of relationships.

Next, theatergoers get a first impression of Sue Ellen (Sidney Rascoe). Rowanne’s younger sister is a juvenile delinquent who does what she wants, including getting secretly married and planning to run off to Canada to start a new life.

Buy One, Get Five Free flows with instances of spontaneity that cause more than one outbreak of laughter from the crowd. The most spontaneous moment happens when Momma, in a delirious state, rams her truck into the trailer.’

A second spontaneous moment occurs with the arrival of Jack (Patrick Earl, Rowanne’s missing husband, just before act two. Jack generates more heat within the cramped household when they find out that due to years of amnesia he had accidentally married Sue Ellen too. Eventually, fights break out among various members of the family. The ending brings the unfortunate circumstances to a satisfying and pleasantly silly close.

This production is perfect for those who enjoy a whimsical satire of the local color of the South and general amusement.

Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for UH faculty and $10 for students, seniors and groups of 10 or more. To purchase, call the box office at (713) 743-2929 or visit

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