METHOW VALLEY NEWS
Drawer Boy Conveys Rituals
Of Stories, Life
– “It’s stimulating to watch a new and
talented cast and director at work”
Stories entertain and
comfort. Sometimes they embellish the truth for dramatic effect or
because the fiction helps us cope with an unsettling reality.
But a finely-crafted
story is only the beginning. Much of the impact of a story comes from
the way it is told. Listening to a gifted storyteller, we respond to
the emotional content along with the plot. But context and perspective
are essential, and reality can be hard to pin down. Is it important
that there be one accepted version of events?
These themes supply
the dramatic focus and structure behind Michael Healey’s The Drawer
Boy, the second play in the Merc Playhouse’s summer season of
professional theater. While it hinges on the import of stories, The
Drawer Boy is also about how we handle responsibility and build
Set in 1972, the play
features three men – childhood friends Morgan and Angus, who live
together on a farm in Ontario, and Miles, a young actor who comes into
their lives with his Toronto theater troupe on a quest for authenticity
in a play they are crafting about the lives of farmers.
Angus sustained a head
injury in World War II, suffering pronounced memory loss, diminished
intellectual capacity (except for an incredible facility for numbers)
and altered emotional responses. Morgan has cared for his friend ever
since, and his care provides a kind of refuge on a practical and
emotional level for them both.
In the program notes,
director Gregg W. Brevoort writes about the use of storytelling as a
device and as a metaphor. “In this beautifully constructed play we see
how stories, and the rituals surrounding them, actually have a profound
effect on the lives of people.”
The plot combines both
the rituals of storytelling – whether in the course of daily life or as
theater and entertainment - with domestic rituals such as baking bread
and milking cows. The house and farm work are a crutch for Morgan and
Angus, providing a structure for their existence.
The play begins with
considerable humor, much of it poking fun at Miles’ theatrical
pretensions and his earnest determination to understand the rural
experience. Miles is so committed to his project that he experiments
with a hilarious series of postures and deep-throated moos in his
efforts to grasp the essential nature of a cow.
All the characters
have honed their own techniques for skirting painful situations. To
escape from his emotional burden, Morgan retreats into chores or asks
Angus to make him a sandwich or do a quick mathematical calculation.
Miles slips into one of the characters he has played in the theater, yet
sometimes his portrayals themselves open the door to long-buried
sensitivities for the men.
It’s stimulating to
watch a new and talented cast and director at work. Brad Harrington, in
the role as Morgan, is particularly effective in conjuring the tender,
yet depleted, caregiver who has channeled his energies into his chores
on the farm.
Reed McColm (Angus)
appeared in a previous production of The Drawer Boy, but in the
role of Morgan. McColm is so convincing in the challenging role of
Angus - perfectly balancing his limited faculties and emotional
fragility - that it is difficult to imagine him playing the sharp-witted
Chad Herrmann, a
slight, elfin man, is well cast in the role of Miles, exuding boyish
naiveté and a comical solemnity about his art.
Brevoort treats the
characters and theme with affection and an easy touch that allows the
emotional punch of the story to emerge gradually.
Many small touches
lend class and sophistication to the production. Finger-style guitar
music sets the right mood from the opening scene and smoothes the
The Drawer Boy
runs through September 3, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm and
Sundays at 2 pm, at the Merc Playhouse in Twisp. For more info call