LONE STAR/LAUNDRY AND BOURBON, CollaborAction Theatre Company, at Stage Left Theatre. The women of Laundry and Bourbon lament their present domesticity and reminisce about their lost virginity as they swill whiskey and “Co’cola” beneath the clothesline; meanwhile the men in Lone Star relive their legendary war experiences and road trips while imbibing Texas’s finest in a honky-tonk parking lot. But before the day and night depicted in James McLure’s two portraits of angst and ennui are done, men and women alike will be forced to put their memories behind them and look to the future.

Conceived by the playwright as companion pieces, these popular one-acts, set at the end of the 60s, are usually performed individually or on a double bill (under the title 1959 Pink Thunderbird). But the innovative CollaborAction Theatre Company cleverly intercuts the two scripts, tightening the connection between these husbands and wives, who speak of one another as strangers lost to history.

This experiment could easily have resulted in a confusing hodgepodge, but Diahanna Davidson’s direction keeps the action sharp edged and evenly paced. The performances border on hyperbole–with Texans it’s hard to tell–but the actors remain firmly rooted in their characters (Christopher Gausselin’s portrayal of soft-spoken little brother Ray is particularly sensitive to subtext). And if Collabor-Action’s interpretation occasionally blurs McLure’s lyrical language, it’s a shortcoming more than redeemed by the empathy and compassion elicited by the ensemble’s closely focused work.

–Mary Shen Barnidge