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Language of Angels fails to take flight

Think The Dukes of Hazzard meets Night of the Living Dead, but more reliant on stereotype than the former and minus the gruesome tension or production values of the latter. This is the general gist/aesthetic of Three Crows’ pretentiously plodding Language of Angels. Naomi Iizuka’s 80-minute drama features a group of vowel-drawling, gun-toting, beer-guzzling, speed-shooting, trailer-living, car-wrecking strippers and sheriffs and good ol’ boys, fighting and smoking and boozing in a cave, and perhaps a mountain ledge as well. Some of the characters are sometimes dead, although there’s so little difference between the dead and the living, it’s tough to determine when someone is a ghost and when they are not. Well, almost.

Celie (Elizabeth Wigley), who vanished (or was murdered? maybe by the guy who became the sheriff? but also maybe not?) one night in the 1980s, shuffles and glowers throughout, stalking the stage in a white dress accessorized by Party City zombie makeup. Under Kristin Davis’s direction, the plot veers between decades with the clarity of a stagnant swamp on a moonless night. It’s further bogged down by ponderous pauses, usually inserted around dialogue that would have fit right into the bilge masquerading as Confucian wisdom in the 1970s “martial arts” TV series Kung Fu. For example, “That’s the thing about a ladder.” Long, portentous pause: “It works both ways.” Mind. Blown. (Not really.) At several points, characters reprimand each other for talking about people who mean nothing to the people they are talking to. The audience could make the same complaint.  v

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