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The Few. Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (see Off Broadway). By Samuel D. Hunter. Directed by Davis McCallum. With Michael Laurence, Tasha Lawrence, Gideon Glick. Running time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission.
The Few: in brief
Samuel D. Hunter, whose The Whale was one of last season's standout dramas, returns with the story of a man who comes back to work for a truckers' newspaper after an unexplained absence of four years. Gideon Glick, Michael Laurence and Tasha Lawrence star, directed by Davis McCallum.
The Few: Theater review by Adam Feldman
Even by the standards of Idaho, the scarcely populated state where Samuel D. Hunter was born and sets all of his plays, the characters in The Few have a farness between them. As the play begins, Bryan (Laurence), taciturn and haggard, returns to the shabby office of the newspaper for fellow truckers that he cofounded years earlier with his girlfriend, QZ (Lawrence), and their best friend, Jim. It has been four years since Jim died and Bryan disappeared without a word of explanation. Since then, QZ has kept publishing the paper, which had been a beacon of community for lonely drivers but now consists mainly of personal ads. (The year is 1999, before Craigslist and its ilk destroyed classifeds in print.) She has also hired a devoted new employee: Matthew (Glick), Jim’s gay teenage nephew, for whom Bryan’s old poetic-drifter articles were once an inspiration, and whom Bryan now immediately tries to displace.
Those who saw Hunter’s excellent The Whale will spot variations on many of the same elements and themes—from the isolated, self-destructive antihero to the deployment of old text as a bittersweet plot device—and the details in the dialogue are wonderfully chosen. (Every place name fits perfectly in place.) Dane Laffrey’s set wittily evokes a whole world of just scraping by, and Davis McCallum’s direction is in most regards ideal; Lawrence’s tough, hurt practicality and Glick’s jittery sweetness are flat-out unimprovable. But some essential sense of connection is missing from Laurence’s performance in the unsympathetic central role. Bryan has an undead quality—he’s been hollowed out by Jim’s death as well as by years on the road—but his stiffness sometimes seems less world-weary than stage-actorly. Even so, The Few stays on course and, in the end, delivers.—Theater review by Adam Feldman
THE BOTTOM LINE One of our finest young playwrights continues his forward drive.
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam