By Barry Bassis
It’s always a privilege to encounter Hallie Foote acting in the plays of her late father, Horton Foote (1916-2009). “Harrison, TX” is a trio of one-act plays, written at different times but coalescing into a satisfying evening of theater. The setting of the three works is Harrison, a fictitious stand-in for the playwright’s home town, Wharton. The first, “Blind Date,” is set in 1928 and deals with a woman named Delores, a former beauty queen now married with two children, who attempts to fix up her unsociable niece, Sarah Nancy (the hilarious Andrea Lynn Green) with a suitor. Delores’ husband Robert (played by Devon Abner, Hallie’s real life spouse) is tolerant of his wife’s quirks but is more interested in her preparing his dinner than in her romantic scheming. Before the clueless Felix (Evan Jonigkeit) arrives, Dolores comes up with a script for her niece to follow (questions about sports, cars, etc.). The second play, “The One-Armed Man,” is a complete change of pace. A cotton mill worker whose arm was severed in a workplace accident (Alexander Cendese) confronts his former boss (Jeremy Bobb). The distraught young man demands the return of his arm. The suspenseful encounter is more violent than most of Foote’s plays. The last work, “The Midnight Caller” is the most Chekhovian of the three. Cendese is again a disturbed character but this time, he plays an alcoholic who tries to rekindle a lost love. She had rejected him because of his alcoholism and the interference of their mothers. The setting is a boarding home with mostly women tenants: “Cutie” Spencer (the talented Green, again convincing, but this time as a more sociable character), the irritable Alma Jean (Mary Bacon) and the compassionate retired schoolteacher, Rowena (played by the always delightful Jayne Houdyshell). Bobb portrays Ralph, the only male to move into the establishment. He falls in love with Helen (Jenny Dare Paulin), the woman who has broken off with the midnight caller. Hallie Foote is the landlady, who tries to maintain peace in the household. Pam McKinnon’s direction flawlessly captures the mood of each piece. “Harrison, TX” is running at Primary Stages at 59 E59 Theaters until September 15th.