The Cardinal Stage Company's production of Michael Healey's play The Drawer Boy at the John Waldron Arts Center is a family mystery wrapped in a city-meets-country comedy.
Miles, an eager young theater student with a group from Toronto, comes to a rural community homestead in search of fresh material from real life. The farm is run by Angus and Morgan, a couple of World War II veterans who have been friends since boyhood.
Miles (played by recent IU graduate Harry Watermeier) is baffled by the brain-damaged Angus (area veteran David Cole). Angus lost his short term memory during the blitz overseas in London. Though he's a whiz with numbers, he can't hang on to his short term memories for more than a few minutes.
It turns out that Miles is in for a good deal of leg-pulling by Angus's protective friend Morgan (the equally experienced Ken Farrell). Morgan has Miles scrubbing rocks for a ditch and believing that crop rotation actually involves moving whole fields from West to East so that they can soak up more even amounts of sun.
Art Mirrors Life
As Miles and the other members of his group dramatize some of the stories that they've learned, the rural community is fascinated to watch their lives mirrored in the scenes. In particular, Angus can't get enough of Miles' work.
Miles tells the farmer about his other acting. He describes his role as Hamlet, telling the story well. Though Angus's responses are naïve, they are interesting and insightful. As the stimulating experiences Miles describes jog Angus's memory, long-buried conflicts begin to surface, frightening Morgan and even Miles. It seems that the old friends' lives may be in real danger. Yet a satisfying conclusion is come to when the poor, put-upon Miles is finally able to get back at Morgan.
Cardinal's Artistic Director Randy White directs this production of The Drawer Boy with assurance. Harry Watermeier does a nice job conveying Miles' growing maturity.
David Coles is a master of Angus' good-natured stops and starts, confusions and revelations. Ken Farrell shows real depth and complexity in the role of caring Morgan. Chil Gratz created the set, which looks as if it might just have come from an authentic photo.