Directed by Julie Ritchey
In a co-production between Filament Theatre Ensemble
and The Den Theatre
At The Den Theatre, Chicago
Bonds of friendship and the healing power of art are movingly presented.
In a co-production between The Den Theatre and Filament Theatre Ensemble, an excellent production of Michael Healey’s 1999 emerges. The Drawer Boy was inspired by a Canadian legend – actors from Toronto travel to rural Ontario to live with and learn about farm life in order to find a play from their experiences. It is 1972 and the thespians perform their play, The Farm, in rural barns throughout the Province.
In The Drawer Boy, we meet two friends living and working a farm in 1972 rural Ontario. Angus (Will Kinnear) and his friend Morgan (Nick Polus) who run their farm through a harmonious daily ritual based on Morgan being the farmer and Angus being the cook, housekeeper and account. Tolerance, trust and routine rule their lives. They seem content until a young man-an actor- arrives at the farm asking to learn about farming by living and working with Morgan and Angus. Miles (Marco Minichielo) is researching farming for a play that his theatre company is contemplating.
Morgan demands that Miles actually work the farm and Morgan assigns Miles to useless chores like rotating the crops and washing stones. Miles is a naive farmer but a determined researcher who questions and probes Morgan and Angus for their story. The questions are at first innocent but over time they set off all three on a powerful journey as Morgan and Angus relive the story of the events that shaped their lives.
Angus, we quickly discover, has instant memory loss that doesn’t allow him to remember things in the present once a new thought or idea is presented to him. But he does remember somethings from his past. He always knows who Morgan is yet he constantly asks who and what is Miles doing at the farm. As the story unfolds, Morgan almost daily sits Angus down to retell him about being in London during World War II when each found their soul mates. But when a Nazi bomb explodes on a London building sending a flying door into Angus’ head injuring him and causing amnesia that results in day-to-day memory problems, Morgan and Angus’ life is altered forever.
We grow to love the gentleness and genuine honesty of Angus and we see the bond that he has with Morgan, the no nonsense farmer. Miles is able to get close to Angus as we witness a moving scene that finds Miles trying to explain the plot of Hamlet to Angus. Once Miles overhears Morgan tell Angus “their” story, he submits that story as his contribution to the farm play in progress. After Morgan and Angus attend the play’s rehearsal, Angus seems sharper yet Morgan is furious feeling that Miles has betrayed the two friends by stirring up old memories.
But the healing power of art manifests itself as old truths and convenient lies are shattered as each of the three are altered by revelation of old secrets. The Drawer Boy is a moving subtle drama that director Julie Richey effectively paces to garner the power of certain scenes without turning the piece into sentimental melodrama. The wonderful understated work by Will Kinnear as Angus anchors the story. Nick Polus subdued guilt as Morgan is nicely performed while Marco Minihiello effectively plays the clueless farm hand- actor.
The Drawer Boy is a touching story about a most empathetic character with whom we quietly cheer for since we see him as a gentle soul deserving of a happy life. The triumph of the human spirit and the healing power of art, friendship and loyalty rule The Drawer Boy. This uplifting play is flawlessly performed and respectful of Michael Healey’s wonderful writing. The Drawer Boy is yet another excellent work being produced by Filament Theatre Ensmeble. This troupe is becoming a major source of worthy theatre productions. One can home that the daily press will stop by and witness this talented ensemble, the Jeff Committee recommends The Drawer Boy and so will you.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: January 22, 2012
For More info checkout The Drawer Boy page on theatreinchicago.com
At The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL, call 773-270-1660, www.filamenttheatre.org, tickets $22, $17 students, $15 industry, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through February 25, 2012