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Concord, Virginia: A Southern Town in Stories Goethe Institut

Remaining Performances: Jul 23rd, 7:30 pm Jul 24th, 6 pm Jul 25th, 6:30 pm Jul 26th, 1 pm

They say: “Neofotis performs stories from his prize-winning book, newly published by St. Martin’s Press. With tales of night-swimming lovers, moon-shining old ladies, and gay trials, come witness the 28 year-old love child of Truman Capote and Eudora Welty! (NYC’s Next Magazine)”

Brian’s take: I’ll not mince words: Concord, Virginia, has too many words.

When I’m writing prose, I read my sentences aloud so that I can hear all the over-wrought language I need to banish from the pages. Here, as Peter Neofotis performs aloud two short stories about a small Virginia town, I couldn’t help but wish he’d taken a machete to his manuscript, pruning what are otherwise perfectly compelling stories of thorny phrases like, “She wistfully walked by,” “Helen pointedly replied,” and, thorniest of all, “They ambulated out the door.” But the biggest problem with Concord, Virginia isn’t the amount of words, but rather its too-heavy reliance upon them instead of character. That’s not to say the characters aren’t periodically attention-grabbing, or even at points well-drawn; but generally, it was a challenge to tell them apart. Not until halfway through the first story did I know for sure which of several college students was testifying before the jury in a case of frat house sodomy. Neofotis’ ability to inhabit multiple distinct characters — already no simple task — is muddied by the energy he has to expend trudging through the narrative as artfully as possible. His characters would be fuller if each had his own relationship with language, his own truly distinct style of speech, and also his own desires for silence. A silence in the theater has huge potential to thrill and enchant. Unfortunately, Neofotis is simply doesn’t leave enough unsaid.

See it if: You don’t mind it when prose turns purple.

Skip it if: My review is already too many words for you to bear.

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