Back in January I wrote what I thought was a rave review of this rock ‘n’ roll horse opera, connecting it fondly to Howard Hawks, Sam Shepard, Jellyeye Drum Theatre, the Flying Karamazov Brothers, and the early Lookingglass Theatre Company. My 19-year-old son was not pleased. An intelligent jock who moves easily between frat life and Dylan Thomas (which aren’t really all that different when you think about it), he’d seen the show with me and liked it so much he went back later with his friends. My review fell short, he said, because the references were meaningful only to people old enough to have caught, say, Jellyeye’s 1992 production of Avalanch Ranch. They would fly right by people his age–the ones he thought should be seeing this first installment of a promised epic called “The Valentine Tragedy.” I said it wasn’t my job to sell tickets, these were my personal points of reference, blah, blah, blah. But the boy had a point, at least as far as the show’s appeal is concerned. It’s entirely possible to enjoy San Valentino and the Melancholy Kid even if you missed Avalanch Ranch. With its cowpokes on bikes, its flamenco love scene, its frontier karmic justice, giddy energy, and onstage rock band, this show qualifies as unrestricted viewing. Theater on the Lake, Fullerton and Lake Shore Dr., 312-742-7994. Opens Wednesday, July 28, 7:30 PM. Through August 1: Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 PM; Sunday, 6:30 PM. $15.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.