On Sunday, I attended the final performance of Michael Healey's The Drawer Boy--and I won't deny that my expectations were high. Having read this play years ago as a member of the playreading committee, I knew how much potential was held within the script. Director Josh Antoon and his entire production team did not disappoint. My only regret is that more people did not see this powerful piece.
The Drawer Boy is unlike any play I have seen the Bobcat Players tackle. With only three men onstage, it requires intense concentration from the audience, as well as an open mind. Antoon approached the set sparingly and instead of a literal backdrop, new lighting was used to add a sense of time and mood to each scene. Though this great departure from the Bobcats' typical sets might have seemed jarring at first, it fit perfectly for this subtle script.
If you attended The Drawer Boy, then you know that the most memorable part of this production was quite obviously the acting. Longtime patrons of the Bobcat Players saw Keith Zagorski give the performance of his lifetime as Angus, a damaged farmer with a past he cannot recall. Zagorski transformed into this character so completely that I truly felt privileged to watch his work. Tom Bickert was perfectly cast as Morgan--rough around the edges but always with a lovable glimmer in his eye. Bickert was also at the top of his game, confirmed by the teary audience members dabbing their eyes after his speeches. Newcomer Ryan Wagner was the perfect foil to the serious nature of the other two characters, bringing lots of laughs with his pure delivery of his character's naiveté. His earnest desire to learn about farming--and later, the true history of these two longtime friends--was the driving force behind the plot and kept the pace flowing seamlessly.
We have always emphasized that The Drawer Boy is a beautifully-written play that explores the themes of loss, forgiveness, and friendship. I know that this description held true for those audiences who joined us last weekend, but perhaps we left out one of the largest themes the play drives home: compassion. There was so much of it amid our small Sunday matinee audience. There was so much feeling.
Audiences said the show was beautiful and that they loved it. How could they not? This production can only be categorized as art. And sometimes, art isn't all laughs or even comfortable. Sometimes, it is difficult and true. That is why the theater is such a cathartic experience. So thank you to everyone involved in The Drawer Boy, who gave our little slice of Beaver County such a moving experience. Your efforts have been noted. You have inspired us. Job well done.