Las Vegas Little Theatre’s opening night presentation of Steve Tesich’s 1989 drama “The Speed of Darkness,” in the Fischer Black Box, was like a diamond in the rough. At first the show felt tepid, awkwardly staged, and seemed under-rehearsed. It needed a bit more polish.
The fine cast perked up as tension in the narrative began to build, and by the time the explosive second act rolled around it was full steam ahead. Granted the text unfolds slowly so perhaps the initial, leisurely pace was the intention of Director David McKee. But despite the more smooth second half there was an occasional tentativeness to the performances and an unevenness between individual scenes throughout, and it felt like they needed a few more run-throughs to bring cohesiveness to the whole piece.
“Speed” is a weighty, metaphorical play of collective guilt about a damaged Vietnam War hero, his quaint nuclear family, his homeless war buddy, and a closet full of skeletons. Tesich follows in the footsteps of such playwrights as Henrik Ibsen and Arthur Miller and their tradition of passionate stories that revolve around a tragic familial secret or two.
“There was a family that lived here,” narrates young Eddie, played by the very funny Connor Hal