The Few

By Samuel D. Hunterstatic1.squarespace.com

Directed by Brad Akin

At Steep Theatre, Chicago

“Hello love seekers! You’ve reached the message line for The Few’s personal ad section….”

“Danny callin’ again… Looking for lady co-pilot to navigate end times. Spacious bunker with comfortable bed, running water, tape deck… Me: over 60. You: under 40. Let’s ride!”  -A caller seeking a romantic connection.

Kudos to Steep Theatre for selecting Samuel D. Hunter’s brilliant play, The Few, now in its Midwest premiere.  Hunter (The Whale and Pocatello) writes about weird characters on the margin who live damaged lives filled with regret. They are stuck lamenting what happens when life gives them what they don’t want. They compensate with food, religion, or alcohol.

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Hunter’s naturalistic dialogue is deeply psychological, which allows actors to exude more from how they express themselves than the mere words. In the hands of director Brad Akin’s three players, Hunter’s characters become fully developed and most empathetic.  We meet  QZ (Dana Black), the proprietor of the weekly newspaper The Few, who struggles to deal with Bryan (Peter Moore) who has just returned from four years of unexplained absence. There are in Northern Idaho near a truck stop just of the Interstate. Bryan and QZ were lovers working together on the trucker-oriented paper Bryan founded to aide the truckers’ loneliness from driving cross country.  Bryan and his friend Jim, veteran truckers, empathized with the alienation and loneliness of the truckers.

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But, once Bryan mysteriously disappeared, QZ turned the paper into more of a classified site where truckers could make romantic connections. (The playing of the phone messages from classified clients was both funny and  revealing.) Throughout this 80 minute drama, mystery elements get our attention: why did Bryan leave without warning? Why is QZ so bitter? and why is Matthew (Travis Coe), the gay teen paper employee, so determined to get Bryan to revive his ideas for the paper? This puzzle keeps us engaged, as does the deeply empathetic performances.

Despite the bitterness and odd relationships of these three damaged souls, somehow we are empathetic to each. That is a testimony to Akin’s direction and Hunter’s writing, but mostly to the outstanding performances by the three players. Peter Moore is doing the finest work of his career playing the tormented, flawed, and disillusioned trucker-turned-newspaperman struggling with life meanings as seen through alcohol. Dan Black using her acting skills to depict contained rage and bitterness marvelously.

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Travis Coe presents Matthew as a lonely lost gay teen trying to find a place, a family with-which to anchor his existing and give his life purpose. Coe has the insecure manner of the teen down by presenting Matthew’s questioning tone, his insecure body language, and the apologetic mark at the end of each of his remarks, statements or questions. Coe was terrific throughout this play!

The Few is a sleeper; it is a one of the finest acted plays you’ll see this year! We empathize with these three sad lives. We relate to the strange plot twists, and we are satisfied with the conclusion. The realism and the honesty of these three characters play as if we had a spy camera in the newspaper trailer to record actual events. Steep Theatre, which long been producing fine theatre, has mounted one of the best shows of the year. Don’t miss this wonderful, honest, and character-driven play. It will reach into your heart.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Date Reviewed: April 15, 2016

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout The Few page at theatreinchicago.com

At Steep Theatre, 1115 W.Berwyn, Chicago, IL, call 866-811-4111, www.steeptheatre.com, tickets $25 – $35, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 80 minutes without intermission, through May 21, 2016.