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Fé in the Desert 

Introspective gangsters on coke! Tarantino-like play is fun, but doesn't fully realize its potential

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Jessica Hagedorn's new play about a couple getting robbed by some soul-searching gangsters over the course of one coke-fuelled night has all the great elements of a theatrical Pulp Fiction. It's got drugs, violence, an out-of-order chronology, and even a scene of two hit men in a car debating proper linguistics, reminiscent of Sam Jackson and John Travolta talking about a Royale with cheese. Hagedorn ups the ante by throwing in high fashion, fine wine, and even a musical dance number stealing choreography from SNL's "Dick in a Box." So why isn't this show theatrical gold? Probably for the same reason all the Tarantino rip-offs have failed: It is very difficult for a director, writer, and actors to strike the right balance between absurd dialogue, graphic violence, and suspenseful believability. Hagedorn also brings in intriguing themes about faith, the paranoia of living deep in the desert, and long delayed homecomings, but none gets adequately pursued and she often switches to campy humor when there should be a dramatic push. Campo Santo's production team creatively employs security cameras, video screens, a working electric garage door, and first-rate sound design to set these fine actors in a remote and lonely desert. Don't get me wrong, is enjoyable, but if the disparate elements clicked together, it would be brilliant. — Nathaniel Eaton

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