Laundry and Bourbon & Lone Star

Originally presented in New York in 1979, James McLure's "Lone Star" is back, paired with its curtain raiser, "Laundry and Bourbon," which was added in 1980. Together the two one-acts give a picture of life in the one-horse town of Maynard, Texas, where the women get drunk during the day and the men get drunk at night. These black comedies depict the effects of the Vietnam War on those who went and those who stayed home.

Janice Goldberg has directed with an eye toward character rather than farce. As a result, these comedies are less funny than they might be. The six actors turn in convincing portraits; the plays, however, seem excessively long, since without the laughs, the climactic revelations seem delayed.

This is most noticeable in "Laundry and Bourbon," in which the conversation between two wives on Elizabeth's porch does not really become engrossing until catty Amy Lee (Ellen Dolan) shows up with a piece of juicy gossip about 45 minutes into the play. Up until then, Elizabeth (Jennifer Laine Williams) tries not to worry about her missing husband, Roy, recently back from Vietnam, while her best friend, Hattie (Robin Suzukawa), prattles on about her children. Suzukawa's overly broad performance diminishes the plot devices, so when we find out that her children have set her mother-in-law on fire, it fails to get a laugh. Dolan, however, pushes up the stakes by relishing every nasty item, leading to a hilarious catfight.

In "Lone Star," we meet Roy (Avi Glickstein) on another night as he drinks himself into a stupor outside Angel's Bar while trying to deal with his life since he came back from Vietnam. With his wry brother Ray (Jason Fraser) and Amy Lee's husband, the nerdy Cletis (Dustin Olson) as catalysts, Roy must cope with successive pieces of bad news. Fraser is commanding as the town's most popular boy who has never quite grown up, while Glickstein and Olson turn in delightfully eccentric performances. Both plays take place on Robin A. Paterson's wonderfully realistic set, which Paterson also lights poetically.

Presented by the Bridge Theatre Company

at Theatre 54 @ Shetler, 244 W. 54th St., 12th fl., NYC.

Feb. 12-19. Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 7 and 10 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.

(212) 868-4444.