By the time Samuel Hunter introduces us to the dingy church basement in which his play The Harvest is set, the big news has already dropped: Four young missionaries from an evangelical congregation in Idaho Falls are heading to the Middle East, but only three of them will return. Josh (Raphael Diaz) plans to stay in the never-specified country they’re visiting to dedicate the rest of his life to mission work. The causes and consequences of this decision form the nervous system of Hunter’s profoundly poignant script, which receives an exquisite production from director Jonathan Berry.
Early on, we find out that Josh’s father has just died, a fact learned when his older sister, Michaela (Paloma Nozicka), comes back to town. She’s not there because of the death, but rather because she heard her brother is planning to uproot his life. It’s a quick glimpse into the family’s calamitous history. Diaz’s face tells the story, too: He plays Josh with a broken, vacant kindness, like a teddy bear left behind in a biker bar.
The more we learn about the family's history—and Josh’s life in Idaho Falls—the cloudier his intentions become. Is he running toward God or away from everything else? Later in the play, Josh tells the group supervisor, a perkily persistent Ava (Kiayla Ryann), that he’s waiting for a sign that he's on the right path. As devoted as he is, Josh is having trouble living on belief alone. He wants proof.
It’s another thing that separates Josh from his fellow missionaries