By PUNCH SHAW
>FORT WORTH — Circle Theatre’s production of Something Intangible is something incredible.
The play by Bruce Graham, which opened Saturday, is about the relationship between a successful World War II-era Hollywood animator, Tony Wiston (Chamblee Ferguson), and his brother, Dale (Regan Adair). It is not about Walt and Roy Disney in exactly the same way Citizen Kane is not about William Randolph Hearst.
While Tony may represent the more famous half of that team, it is Dale’s story. We meet him in the opening scene in the office of his psychiatrist, Dr. Feldman (Nancy Sherrard), and spend the rest of the play trying to understand why he is there instead of his mad genius of a brother.
It would be impossible to over-praise Adair’s performance as the grounded brother who has the dull task of looking after the dollars and cents paying for his sibling’s artistic excesses. There is a thought and a purpose behind every word of every line he utters.
And yet there is not one ounce of artifice, not one visible element of technique or a single cheap trick in any aspect of his characterization. He is, quite simply, the best actor in the Metroplex, and every day he is working here instead of on one of the coasts is a gift to us all.
About the only thing more stunning than Adair’s work is the fact that the rest of the cast is so good that they do not allow him to blow them off the stage.
Ferguson relentlessly chews up the scenery like Meryl Streep catching a whiff of an Oscar nomination.
He crosses the line occasionally in his manic portrayal of the Benzedrine-fueled, impetuous and impecunious Tony. But it is such a great part, and Ferguson’s intensity is so demanding, that the result is a highly compelling, white-hot performance that plays beautifully against the cool blues of Adair’s work.
Sherrard and Dennis Maher, who double dips as the failed dentist-turned-financier Doc Bartelli and the Leopold Stokowski-like Gustav von Meyerhoff, are superb in their supporting roles.
Making the most of all this talent is director Matthew Gray. He moves his actors like chess pieces. The magic dust sprinkled on this production comes from his hands.
When you wish upon a star, this is the show you should wish for.