Indigo Blues (a love song), Black Ensemble Theater. Flighty Clara and flinty Muriel Boudreaux, two sisters who are the last in a proud line of aristocrats, live in a gloomy old mansion next to a graveyard in the deep south. Now, 30 years after Clara stole the handsome Moses Britton from Muriel, he returns to claim one of them.

Aficionados of the southern gothic novel can easily guess the outcome of Indigo Blues (A Love Song), a catalog of motifs from the Faulkner-McCullers-Tennessee Williams canon so exhaustive as to border on parody. Playwright Judi Ann Mason’s experience as a television writer is apparent in the play’s episodic structure, which raises the level of suspense gradually, though a jarring chronological leap between the third and fourth scenes brings us to the play’s climax prematurely.

What Indigo Blues may lack in substance, however, it more than makes up for in style. For this Black Ensemble production, the reliable Jackie Taylor acts up a storm as Clara, whose vivacity masks an insecurity that would be instantly recognizable as psychotic in any milieu but this one; Ed Wheeler is suitably strong and silent as the prodigal Moses. But what stands out in Chuck Smith’s staging is Valarie Tekosky’s intensely focused portrayal of the embittered Muriel. Likewise noteworthy is Jimmy Martin’s offstage saxophone, whose sweet-sad lines deliver all the eloquence and poignancy missing from Mason’s formulaic text.

–Mary Shen Barnidge