Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: (Ottawa) The Drawer Boy

Ending 100
by Valerie Cardinal

For the last show of its 100th season, The Ottawa Little Theatre picked Michael Healey’s The Drawer Boy, and it’s easy to see why from this production. The award-winning script is backed up by an impressive set, loving direction and solid acting. 

The Drawer Boy is set in 1972 and focuses on an actor, Miles, who ventures into the country to research farm life. He befriends Angus and Morgan, two farmers who appear to lead a simple life but are so much more beneath the surface. For starters, Angus has short-term memory loss after an accident during World War II left him with a brain injury. He’s good with numbers and can make a mean sandwich, but for everything else he depends on his friend Morgan – who may be hiding a thing or two about their past. 

Even though Miles is the catalyst, The Drawer Boy’s core remains Morgan and Angus’s friendship, which is well-developed by Brian Cano and Mark Kielty. As Morgan, Kielty takes a page out of Clint Eastwood’s acting book as a stoic farmer who is still believable as a caretaker. I appreciated his ability to underplay Morgan’s emotions, especially during the show’s climax. 

However, Cano’s Angus is my highlight; he is empathetic and heartbreaking as a man who has been clinging to the little memories he has left for thirty years. Mike McSheffrey as naïve city boy Miles never seems to completely disappear into his role, although that touch of awkwardness works at some points. 

Angus and Morgan’s farmhouse is beautifully designed by Margaret Coderre-Williams. As with other OLT productions I’ve seen, the set is intricately built, even featuring a working tap! Chantale Plante keeps her direction simple and straightforward to really let the emotions shine through. I could have done without the music however, which sounded a little like it belonged in a Hallmark movie. 

This three-hander feels refreshing and intimate after bigger productions such as Noises Off and Steel Magnolias. The Drawer Boy does take a few scenes to find its footing, but yields quite a few powerful moments when it does. All in all, it’s a good way to end the season. 

The Drawer Boy runs to August 24 

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