The Tooth of Crime,” by Sam Shepard


  • Categories: Theater
  • Event posted: Nov. 19, 2008
  • Last updated: Sept. 16, 2014

Event details

From the producer: The Tooth of Crime is a musical play written by Sam Shepard. It tells the story of aging rock singer Hoss doing battle with rival Crow.The play is set in a vaguely described science fiction future dominated by "The Game," a conflation of rock music and violence played by "Markers" under the direction of "The Keepers." Hoss has struggled to become the top Marker, only to find himself doubting his own abilities in the face of opposition from "Gypsies" who operate outside of the official rules.Act 1:Eager to make an outing, Hoss is frustrated when the Star-Man advises him against it on the basis of his astrology. Hoss learns that his rival, Mojo Root Force, has encroached upon his territory in Las Vegas in a move of questionable legality. After getting word that a Gypsie from Vegas is on his way to attack him, Hoss calls an old friend, Little Willard, for backup, only to find that Willard has committed suicide due to his inability to cope with his status. These successive revelations exacerbate Hoss's self-doubt and his belief that the old way is dying, and he attempts to perk up his confidence by challenging the Gypsie to a shiv fight.Act II: Before the dual (which has been changed from a shiv fight to battle of words under the guidance of an official referee) Hoss and Crow attempt to psych each other out. While Crow learns to imitate Hoss's walk and style, Hoss intimidates Crow by taking on the voice of an old Western gunslinger. Despite an ostensibly effective second round in which he takes on the voice of a Delta bluesman, Hoss loses the battle when Crow exposes Hoss's "Fear that he's crackin' busted in two." After killing the Ref, a desperate Hoss begs Crow to teach him the new style. Ultimately, however, he decides to commit his last authentic act by killing himself, for which Crow commends him. The play ends with Crow assuming his place on Hoss' throne, with Becky quickly shifting her loyalty.


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