At Night out in the Country
From the article posted on “The New Moon Rising” on September 3, 2012
If for no other reason than the crack of a screen-door on the porch in a cricket-filled night in the country, see The Drawer Boy. Like the night beneath the stars out in the country where you can actually see them, it is the quiet majesty and tiniest sound of the night, on a farm, the lights inside making the shadows sharp and full, cool pools of the darkness, where we sit, in the unique house that ART built, cleaved in two at the doorway, so that you practically walk onto the apron of the stage as you come through the door and then must choose stage right or stage left to make your entrance – into the audience, with the other half of the audience in full view. It’s a fascinating aesthetic, you feel like you’re watching a play in the foreground and an audience watching a play in the background.
The Drawer Boy contains enough meta-theatrical elements in its conception, and Director Mark Woollett doesn’t overplay his hand by breaking the fourth wall. His stages this three-hander adroitly and plays it straight, letting the stage pictures speak for themselves. It’s a play about a young man writing a play.
The play is about life on a farm and the two men who are farming it, and it is the life of it that is compelling. It is those quiet moments when the screen-door smacks its wood-frame to punctuate a coming or a going. It is the superb sound design of farm life and slide guitar constructed by Aran Graham. It is the atmospheric lighting design by Karelisa Hartigan that makes us feel bone tired but satisfied because we worked our butts off in our own fields all day
David Aiken, a good working class actor (and who can offer better praise?), gives an honest solid performance as Morgan, the farmer who tends to business in the manner of George in Of Mice and Men, which playwright Michael Healey plainly reflects. It is just the right footing for the reversal that pivots the second act.
Jerry Rose puzzles together the identity of the mentally and spiritually shattered Angus over the course of many interludes – technically adept, the blackouts are nearly as entertaining as the play: a cinemascope slide show – and he makes the Epiphany of Angus both something miraculous and . . . what did I just say?
Sam Richardson is Miles, the young playwright, and he’s earnest, energetic, empathic, and empathetic, so I guess you’d have to give him and E. And another for scene designers Kimberly Yeoman and Charlecia Joy Paul, whose two-level set simply and effectively, layers the action and gives it depth.
The ensemble of The Drawer Boy gives us meaning, which comes as much from its sounds and unspoken moments as from its words. See and hear The Drawer Boy at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre through September 9.
– Shamrock McShane