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Paulanne Simmons

Top Drawer

"The Drawer Boy"
Directed by Alexander Dinelaris
The SoHo Playhouse
15 Vandam Street (between 6th and Varick)
Opened April 19, 2013
Tuesday thru Sunday at 8pm, Saturday & Sunday matinees at 3pm
Tickets: $65 - $79 (866) 811-4111
Closes: June 16, 2013
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons April 19, 2013

L-R: Alex Fast, William Laney, and Brad Fryman. Photo by Alex Dinelaris.

Canadian playwright, Michael Healey’s play, “The Drawer Boy,” opens when Miles (Alex Fast), a young playwright, shows up at the door of two Ontario farmers, Morgan (Brad Fryman) and Angus (William Laney). He announces that he would like to live and work with them to get background information for a play about farming. They reluctantly agree, and it soon becomes apparent that there is something bizarre about their relationship.

Angus is somewhat slow and cannot remember much for more than a few seconds, repeatedly asks Miles who he is. Morgan is domineering but solicitous of Angus. Somehow we know there are deep, dark secrets behind their relationship. But what are they? Is Angus a murderer? A rapist? Or is it Morgan who has the violent past? Why are they holed up in this ramshackle farm and whom are they hiding from?

L-R: Brad Fryman, and William Laney. Photo by Alex Dinelaris.

As this riveting drama progresses, Miles overhears the story Morgan tells Angus over and over again: They were boyhood friends. Angus loved to draw; Morgan looked for action. After high school they joined the Army together and fought in World War II. Angus suffered a brain injury during an enemy attack. They met two girls overseas, married them and brought them home. The girls died in a car accident.

Miles turns this story into a play for his theater group. He invites Angus and Morgan to a rehearsal. Angus is delighted with the production. It even seems to have helped his memory. At least he can remember who Miles is now. Angus is not so pleased. He feels abused.

L-R: William Laney, and Alex Fast. Photo by Alex Dinelaris.

There is more to the story about these two friends, and under Alexander Dineharis’s deft direction, the truth is slowly and enticingly teased out. Along the way, all three men (and the audience) learn something about the nature of truth and its relationship to art and art’s handmaiden, the imagination.

Fast, Fryman and Laney are excellent actors who work brilliantly together. Fast is totally appealing and makes Miles’s innocence completely believable. Laney turns Angus’s inability to express himself into a kind of eloquence that is more moving than words. And Fryman manages to reveal Morgan, who gleefully works Miles to exhaustion, as a benevolent figure.

“The Drawer Boy” is a treasure. It is one of the best plays of the season, on Broadway or off. Those who miss it do so to their own misfortune.


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