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The Go, Terrapin Theatre, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Having read or seen three of Brett Neveu’s plays, I’ve come to the conclusion that he writes for the theater only because the TV show in his head doesn’t exist yet. Or ceased to exist decades ago. With their spareness, their stillness, their refusal to indulge in the visual and linguistic flourishes most people think of as theatrical, Neveu’s plays adhere to the sort of realism one might expect the Amish to adhere to if the Amish wrote plays. To find a comparable astringency you’d have to go back to early, live TV dramas like Paddy Chayevsky’s Marty, in which primitive technology and old left social conscience combined to produce something uniquely plain.
But also uniquely charged. At times, Neveu manages to reproduce that charge in this cunning drama about an ex-con who falls in with the wrong kind of do-gooders. The best thing about Neveu’s style is his use of ellipses–his strong sense of what to leave out–and it serves him particularly well here: the menace of this play sneaks up on audience and characters alike.
Director Brad Nelson Winters does what he can to mitigate the I-dunno-whadda-you-wanna-do-Marty?-ness of the script, inserting some welcome if gratuitous bits of stagecraft to heighten the overall sense of something awful happening. Melissa Sienicki is marvelous as a teenager trying to stem the tide of that awfulness, but as her elders, Gerrit O’Neill lacks focus and Jimmy Freund lacks sufficient meanness.