"Three and a half stars

Heartland Actors’ Repertory Theatre; Easely Winery; July 23

A well-staged reading of an absurdist polemic tract on war, fidelity, manliness, femininity, Happy Birthday, Wanda June proves nine fine actors can make anything entertaining in a lovely setting on a perfect summer evening with a sold-out crowd. Vonnegut strung a bunch of one-liners and non sequiturs on a chain of implausible events unapologetically lifted from Homer’s Illiad. Vonnegut’s Penelope, however, is not into shredding a shroud to stave off suitors and Harold is not a noble figure bandied about by the gods. Alas, we get the point by the end of Act 1, which could be tightened enough to bring on the full contingent of characters who brighten Acts 2 and 3.

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