The two worlds conjoined in the title of playwright-director Timothy McNeil’s “Machu Picchu, Texas” are metaphorically linked by constants in human experience — in particular, the enduring propensity for senseless violence.
At one point in this affecting and superbly realized new play, a cynical professor of history makes the connection explicit: the fact that some of the ancient Incan city’s populace were beaten to death for no clear reason makes it “just like Texas, only with sandals and feathers.”
In a present-day Houston suburb, tensions and conflicted loyalties erupt among two families and their friends in the wake of a random, unprovoked assault that’s left Charlie — a gentle man beloved by all who knew him — confined to a wheelchair.
Portrayed with heartbreaking precision and finesse by the author, Charlie’s compassion and nobility of spirit shine through his physical wreckage as he refuses to wallow in victimhood. Instead, he gives halting but eloquent voice to the play’s central theme: the delusions that arise from our ability to imagine possibilities that life can never completely fulfill.