REVIEW: Brand New Play ‘OX’ Unexpectedly Tugs At Your Heartstrings

David Roark in “OX.”

BY SANDY STAGGS
DRAMA CRITIC

“OX” by Derek Davidson, is a short play with a huge heart.

Davidson, who penned the paean to the Women of Shakespeare in “A Part Equal” performed by Theatre Converse at Converse College last season, turns a boring, innocuous intelligent man in a nondescript bookstore into a Greek hero, prepping for his own Odyssey.

David Roark, with his wife, Kate, as director plays a career bookstore employee who is leaving his job and has to train his replacement (that is us, the audience).  Over the course, of some 35 minutes, he tells us the ins and outs of the declining bookstore industry.

Performed in an actual bookstore (Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg) with just a handful of books as props and only an occasional peek at his script, Roark banters on his days in corporate as Barnes and Noble, the different sections of the bookstore (don’t look for a biography section anymore. by the way). We learn that the customer is not always right in a tale of a woman trying to return a book she bought and didn’t like, and probably didn’t read. And we discover, we don’t particularly like this conceited guy.

Citing the thousands of books he has read, and often ostentatious with his knowledge, he approaches the edge of boring us, and making you feel like a intellectually-inferior loser for not picking up a book every day.

Then, suddenly the story takes a U-Turn (including the title of the play) and becomes something downright heart-breaking, landing us right in the thicket of a national debate on U.S. immigration policy.

No spoilers here, but the program includes a talkback with a representative of the nonprofit PASOS of Spartanburg explaining the work they do for the Latino immigrant community here in the Upstate.

Kate Roark’s previous credits include director of “Spamalot” at Spartanburg Little Theatre and “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche” with Proud Mary Theatre Company. She will also be directing “Fun Home” next summer with Proud Mary,

You can catch “OX” one more time on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. at Hub City Bookshop, 186 W Main St, in Spartanburg. $10 suggested donation, or pay-what-you-can. All proceeds benefit PASOS of Spartanburg.

 

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