Basil Kreimendahl’s Orange Julius would be a much more powerful play without Julius on stage. It’s hard to say such a thing with stellar Jeffrey Jones in the cast as Julius, a Vietnam vet dying years later from the effects of Agent Orange. But neither Jones’ usual intensity nor the short battlefield flashbacks change the fact that Orange Julius owes its soul to the character of Nut, Julius’ plain-spoken but searching daughter (played in Moxie Theatre’s world premiere production by Rae K. Hendersen). Julius’ fate and its effects on the entire family (Dana Case as wife Frances, Wendy Maples as other daughter Crimp) are best expressed in Nut’s searing monologues. When Hendersen addresses the audience in the shadows, all the fear and anxiety and unanswered questions she harbors, and her family harbors, coalesce. Because there is so little “action” on stage, the battle sequences notwithstanding, Orange Julius comes off like a series of monologues repeatedly interrupted.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.