Monday, December 29, 2014

The Few: All That is Unspoken

"I'm really terrible at being a person."

Samuel Hunter again manages to find that painful spot in your heart where longing, grief, love, and disappointment lie and reveals it ever so gently through his characters in his new play The Few.

Many years ago, Bryan (Michael Laurence), Jim, and Q.Z. (Tasha Lawrence) started a newspaper for truckers filled with poetry and articles about life on the road.  Bryan and Jim had spent years driving trucks and wanted to create a meeting place and periodical to help connect these disconnected souls. Lifelong friends, Q.Z. and Bryan fell apart after Jim's death, with Bryan skipping town. But four years later, Bryan comes back to find Q.Z. has changed the format of the newspaper so that it is now mostly trucker dating listings and now she has a helper Matthew (Gideon Glick). Bryan won't say why he's come back now but much has changed in four years he was gone.

Hunter seems to specialize in characters who are in pain but he's found very different ways to illustrate that pain. In The Whale, Charlie drowned himself in food. Here, Bryan seems awash in silence. Unable to articulate what he's feeling, Michael Laurence as Bryan spends much of the play reacting to things.  As we learn, truckers lead a solitary life and Bryan explains they start to wonder if they even exist. Spending days not talking to anyone, avoiding talking to people, and drifting in their minds.   Bryan is the perfect embodiment of this. His days of writing and poetry behind him he's lost his words and his way.

Coming back to where all these feelings first started and the site of his creation, he must not only confront Q.Z. but also the dreams of his youth now buried under a more commercial enterprise made up of endless lovelorn requests.

Hunter weaves this taut 90 minute tale with questions of aspirations, disappointments, existence, survival, and hope. Like in The Whale, Tasha Lawrence is again given a sharp tongued and tough character to chew over. Gideon Glick's nervous and fluttering Matthew swallows his words, worries about everything, but wants so much--it's like his mouth can not keep up with his heart--and it's a lovely performance.   I thought Laurence struggled a bit with his drunk scene, not quite nailing the particular nuance of anger, disarray and disregard, but when he sits still and tries to communicate everything by being silent and small there's a lot going on.  In a performance wholly different from his recent (excellent) turn in Appropriate

It is a particularly quiet play--with the unspoken taking up the most space on stage.  I happen to love Hunter's broken characters from A Bright New Boise, The Whale, and The Few.   Their stumbling through life, their mistakes, and their humanity make for the most beautiful watercolor dramas.  Muted edges but full of life. 

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