FLAMING GUNS OF PURPLE THE SAGE showing at The Red Barn Theater

Directed by Joy Hawkins

Review by Emily Berg

Theater has the power to transport us to new and exciting places. When the lights go down on the house and come up on the stage we could find ourselves anywhere. The Red Barn Theater is aptly situated for this. Tucked off Duval, down the long path behind the Woman’s Club, the entrance to this playhouse always feels special to me. Like a secret hideaway where anything could happen. And it does in Flaming Guns of Purple the Sage. This eccentric comedy will transport you just about as far from Key West as possible. 

The play takes place on a ranch outside of Casper, Wyoming where the accents are thick and the cheap beer is flowing. Our hero, Big 8, is a former rodeo star spending the next phase of her life healing broken cowboys in exchange for their companionship. It’s a quiet rainy night on the ranch with her latest project, Rob Bob, when a knock on the door reveals a small pink haired, punk of a girl on the run from psycho. The drama unfolds from there and the audience is taken on a journey as a cast of characters, who think they’ve already seen everything add another story to their arsenal of campfire tales.

The play is very funny. The characters are extreme and the acting is wonderful. George DiBraud is a steady force as Big 8. DiBraud’s chemistry with Susannah Wells as Sheril, Big 8’s sister gives the production a wonderful warmth. Each cast member brings a charm and relatability to the otherwise unhinged group.

The dialogue is fast paced and the physical comedy nonstop. At any given moment there’s a lot happening on stage but the goal of each character is well voiced so I found it easy to track.

The characters are so severe and the story so offbeat it’s possible to get caught up in the details. As an example I found my mind swirling for meaning from a small moment when a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon is referred to as a “local beer”. Anyone in the audience visiting from Milwaukee make take exception to the Wyoming crew claiming the cheap beer. But I couldn’t help but wonder ‘is this a red herring?’ With all of the outlandish antics unfolding before me that little moment felt intentional.

I found there to be many moments like this throughout the play and I believe they enhanced the experience. My advice would be to not over-think it. Sit back, enjoy the ride and let this play give the best gift theater can offer: entrance to a world unlike your own. 

Flaming Guns of the Purple the Sage runs now through February 25 at the Red Barn Theater. Tickets are still available at redbarntheater.com

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