A young white man of some privilege, wounded by a breakup, drops out of his Ivy League school to become a migrant worker, raising bees and harvesting strawberries on a traipse across the country. A year later, his mother travels to California to retrace his journey and confront the men who murdered him.
Kenneth Lin's 2012 play is just as overstuffed with metaphor as his tiring Po Boy Tango, seen at Northlight a few seasons ago. The behavior of bees, in particular, is burdened with portent; when Aaron (Brendan Meyer) determines he has to get a new queen to restart his hive, well, it's almost too clear this worker's talking about more than his apiary.
Yet Fallow doesn't wear out its welcome as quickly as Tango, owing largely to the richly drawn performances of Kendra Thulin as Aaron's mother, Elizabeth, and José Antonio García as Happy, the gypsy cab driver she hires to chauffeur her to the prisons where she'll visit the men convicted of killing her son. Happy, it seems, may know more about Aaron than what he saw on the news, but Elizabeth may know more about Happy than she lets on as well.
Director Keira Fromm metes out the reveals carefully, and the interplay between Thulin's raw-wound Elizabeth and García's warm, genial Happy keeps our attention. Meyer, stuck with flashback scenes in which he's mostly narrating letters to his mother, is less successful in earning our sympathy for Aaron, the lost little bee—er, boy—in search of his hive.