This family-secret drama doesn't yield much shock.
Brian Delaney’s The Seedbed is a new play, but it feels like an old one. Like many dramas before it, it concerns the return of a family member, in this case an 18-year-old Irish girl named Maggie (Abby Dillion), to the home she was raised in. Like many dramas before it, there is a deep, dark secret, one that drove her away in the first place and that she hopes now to bury. Like many dramas before it, everyone will talk around this secret until just before the act break, and then they will return from intermission to really have it out in Act II. For as surprising as this play wants to be, it’s disappointingly predictable. You could practically set your watch to it.
On the other hand, director Steve Scott displays a firm, metronomic hand on the material. He keeps the trains running on time, knowing when to ease on the brakes and when to hit the throttle. Redtwist stalwart Jacqueline Grandt is very good as Maggie’s tightly-wound mother, Hannah; unfortunately, actor Mark Pracht can’t quite match her as Maggie’s beaten-down dad, Thomas. Adam Bitterman brings a disruptive energy (sometimes too much of it) as Mick, Maggie’s much-older boyfriend.
Everyone hits their marks and the story unfolds in good time, and the big secret is screwed-up enough that many audience members will be delightfully scandalized. But there are too many moments that feel like hand-me downs from older, more original plays. In fact, there are two big speeches, one from Thomas and from Mick, that are practically secondhand Pinter. In The Seedbed, it too often feels like Delaney’s the seeds of inspiration needed to fall a little further from the tree.
Redtwist Theatre. By Bryan Delaney. Directed by Steve Scott. With Adam Bitterman, Abby Dillion, Jacqueline Grandt, Mark Pracht. Running time: 2 hours, 10 min. One intermission.