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Saturday, October 6, 2012

UNC Charlotte takes on queasy play

Posted By on Sat, Oct 6, 2012 at 10:00 AM

No doubt about it, How I Learned to Drive is a powder keg of a play. That's because playwright Paula Vogel presents sexual predator Uncle Peck — oh yes, he and his victim are related — with such balance and objectivity. He's a diffident, ultra-cautious fiend. That said, how long can narrator Li'l Bit go on without bluntly rejecting her uncle before we feel — as she will — that she's complicit in her own torment?

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This was one queasy, uncomfortable and utterly essential evening of theater when Charlotte Repertory Theatre staged the local premiere, directed by Steve Umberger, in 1999 — a year after Vogel's script won a Pulitzer Prize. There should be little fall-off in the current edition at UNC Charlotte, where it plays at the cozy Black Box Theatre through October 14. If you've seen Joe Rux at Actor's Theatre of Charlotte in recent years (Southern Rapture and Santaland Diaries), you're already confident that Peck is in good hands, and he's directed by Lon Bumgarner, a two-time CL Theaterperson of the Year. $6-$14. Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m., Oct. 10-11, 7:30 p.m., Oct. 12-13, 7:30 p.m., Oct. 14, 2 p.m. UNC Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd.

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