Let’s Review: Friendship is tested in ‘The Drawer Boy’ at North Coast Repertory Theatre
By Diana Saenger
A play about a theater student leaving Toronto to research farm life in the countryside may sound trivial, but the scenario becomes a harvest of fun in Michael Healey’s humorous, intriguing and well-acted script, “The Drawer Boy,” on stage through March 20 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre (NCR).
Miles (Kevin Koppman-Gue, “Into the Woods,” “The History Boys”) arrives in rural settings with expectations and a notebook. He knocks on the door of one farmhouse and meets Angus (Paul Hopper, “Richard III,” “Scoundrel”) a somewhat disheveled man who Miles later learns suffered a brain injury in World War II. Miles explains that he’s looking to become a farmhand in exchange for the experience he needs to finish a script he’s writing.
Angus agrees to get his roommate/caretaker Morgan (Frank Corrado, “Madagascar,” “Oedipus”) on the case, but once he closes the door on Miles, Angus returns to what he always does best – make a ham sandwich.
However, Morgan hears Angus talking to someone and so re-opens the door to listen to Miles’ curious offer. Always in need of help, Morgan agrees to feed and house Miles in exchange for real work – milking cows, moving hay, and transplanting crops. He also explains Angus’ delicate condition and lays down the do’s and don’ts to Miles about his dear friend.
Much humor ensues, as Angus becomes the focus of attention. Everyday is a new day for him because he’s unable to process or recall the past and is locked into daily patterns — mainly making that ham sandwich.
“The Drawer Boy” is lightly based on the experiences of some young actors who, in 1972, were sent to Canada to live with and interview farmers. From their new associations came a script, “The Farm Show,” that was transformed for several mediums.
David Ellenstein’s direction of “The Drawer Boy” is seamless, and all three actors excel in their portrayals of these quirky characters. Koppman-Gue as Miles has the effervescent of a young and unsteady youth who isn’t sure about his future, but willing to go to the distance to make good at what he’s doing. It’s the story-telling aspect of what Morgan tells him about his and Angus’ past, however, that makes Miles determined to change Angus’ life.
Corrado is steady and unbending as Morgan. A man, seemingly with a chip on his shoulder, his actions lead the audience to think one thing while, in essence, it’s far from the truth. His realization that letting Miles into their home may be worse than a past transgression consumes his every move.
Hopper steals the show with his sensational performance as Angus. Playing a character stuck in a rut would appear easy, but it’s those few moments in conversation with either Miles or Morgan, when Angus connects with a moment from his past and steals a trifle of happiness that makes this play profound.
A good story and superb actors can only transport an audience with the proper backdrop. So thanks to the NCRT team — Marty Burnett (Scenery), Matt Novotny (Lighting), Valerie Henderson, (Costumes), Chris Luessmann (Sound/Projection) and Annie Bornhurst (Props and Set) — The Drawer Boy’s journey between truth and fiction becomes one well worth taking.
If you go
What: ‘The Drawer Boy’
When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays; 2 p.m. some Saturdays; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays through March 20
Where: North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Dr., Solana Beach
Contact: (858) 481-1055. northcoastrep.org
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