Another small-town story from playwright Samuel D. Hunter gets a heartfelt treatment from Steep.
Bryan (Peter Moore), the founder of a self-published newspaper for long-haul truckers—you might have called it a "zine" if it was pitched for a different audience—shows back up to its shabby Idaho headquarters four years after disappearing without a word. His former girlfriend QZ (Dana Black), left holding the bag when Bryan took off, has turned The Few into a marginally profitable enterprise by reframing it as a personal-ads rag. (You might intuit that playwright Samuel D. Hunter has set this story in the pre-Y2K era, when internet access was paid for by the hour and phones were answered by answering machines.)
Moore, Steep's artistic director, a master at playing weary and resigned, imbues Bryan with requisite depth, and Black, an off-Loop favorite who's often known (and loved) for deliciously broad roles, gives what might be her most grounded and affecting performance yet. Travis Coe's turn as Matthew, a troubled young man who's invested his whole being in keeping the paper running in Bryan's absence, is a bit too mannered. But Hunter's signature affection for his small-town characters comes through strongly, and director Brad Akin's production of one of the too few contemporary plays to consider these kinds of American lives gives them their due.
Steep Theatre. By Samuel D. Hunter. Directed by Brad Akin. With Peter Moore, Dana Black, Travis Coe. Running time: 1hr 40mins; no intermission.