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THEATER REVIEW: "Wonder Wounded Heroes" hampered by a plot with nowhere to go

Gus (Ruff Yeager), Otto (Matt Scott) and Harry (Tom Hall) have made it to their 40s, apparently without work and despite an alcoholic father who made them memorize “Hamlet” by the time they were nine, a drug-addled mother who took Harry and left early on, and the self-imposed isolation of their living conditions.

Gus and Otto subsist in a grimy, decaying trailer somewhere in the Canadian North Woods, where they drink, early and often. Gus has been blinded, presumably by his own hand; now he sits in a ratty armchair and paints, the canvases and colors prepared by Otto.

Now Harry, who made his way to Los Angeles and forged a career in television, returns to the woods in search of information about what happened to their father.

It’s Shakespeare and Sam Shepard, abuse, alienation and too much booze – and a plot with nowhere to go – in MacDonald Wachsman’s “Wonder Wounded Heroes,” in its world premiere through Feb. 19 at ion theatre.

Stylistically, this is a gem – the set by Claudio Raygoza and Scott speaks volumes about hope lost and dreams twisted by circumstance – and the unwillingness to change. Director Glenn Paris and a fine cast deserve praise for making the play at times seem better than it is.

Wachsman shows talent, but in this script he fails to get inside his characters and settles for the occasional clever line that seems imposed from without rather than organic. “People need poetry, not mops,” is a great line, but it’s doubtful any of these souls tortured by the classics would believe or utter it.

“Wonder Wounded Heroes” is a few rewrites from ready for prime time, but ion gets applause for the willingness to present new works.

The details

“Wonder Wounded Heroes” plays through Feb. 19 at ion theatre, 3704 Sixth Ave.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m.; matinee Saturday at 4 p.m.

For tickets, call (619) 600-5020 or visit www.iontheatre.com.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.