The Bloomington Playwrights Project is producing their first Woodward/Newman Drama Award winning play, the gritty, three-character piece Miles Away. Playwright Christine Whitley says Miles Away riffs on the movie The Hustler, but as the young pool hustler Sissy and her mentor Ron tore at one another, I kept thinking of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Miles Away is set in a seedy motel room, in what’s simply the next town in Sissy and Ron’s travels. She’s a game and talented pool player, but they’re gradually running out of small towns where they can work their hustle. The two have a fascinating, twisted history that the play unwinds skillfully, a bit at a time. Their relationship is a sort of symbiosis: It’s poisonous, but it’s all either of them know.
Ron and Sissy are longing for the big money game, the grail of their quest. Ron thinks he’s found a mark who’ll stake them. Their goals are almost laughably modest: a game that will get them into a car that isn’t a wreck, and into hotel room that actually has an iron.
The tensions build in Miles Away as the two wait for the mark, ebbing and flowing as Ron drinks and Sissy storms in and out. Finally he knocks at the door. The two are so wound up that for what seems like minutes neither dares to open it. Finally, Giles is admitted. He seems game and Ron is elated, but Sissy has her doubts…something seems wrong.
Leaving You With A Cliffhanger
I have to leave off here. Lee Parker is masterful as the raging and enraged Ron. Taylor Crousore more than delivers his part as the mark. Chloe Williamson is alternately pantherish and pathetic, a still unformed young woman, until the final magical moment when we see her full fledged.
Miles Away at the Bloomington Playwrights Project, directed by Chad Rabinovitz, plays Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through April 23.
At the theatre for you, I’m George Walker