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Some Moments in ‘Moon’ at Renegade

One expects certain conventions from a play set in Mississippi during the 1950s, and “Under the Moon,” Layce Gardner’s new drama at American Renegade Theatre in North Hollywood, does not disappoint.

There is a tobacco-chewing redneck, an ornery deputy and even a Ku Klux Klan cross-burning. Such devices give this interracial love story an instantly recognizable setting, if not a fresh and credible viewpoint.

The play manages to find a few genuine moments in its tale of Opal (Gail Bearden), a hardscrabble white widow struggling to accept the budding romance between her eldest daughter, Juba (Cheryl Mahar), and a black man named Henry (Timothy D’Antwine).

Yet the script tries to make drama out of blunt confrontations, where each character knows and speaks his or her mind, rather than building tension through ambiguity and suggestion. The characterizations feel stenciled and flat, and even fleetingly lyrical passages--Opal’s reminiscence of her dead husband, for instance--recall far better plays by Tennessee Williams and Beth Henley.

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The actors rarely rise above one-note portrayals, although director David A. Cox’s staging can at times be moody and evocative.

* “Under the Moon,” American Renegade Theatre, 11305 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Friday and Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 7 p.m. Ends Sept. 11. $10-$12. (818) 763-4430. Running time: 2 hours.


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