‘Drawer Boy’ Captivates at the Youngstown Playhouse

By J.E. Ballantyne Jr.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — It is not often that I find myself so totally involved in a show, as an audience member, that I lose track of time and place. That was the case, however, Friday night at the Youngstown Play•house watching the opening performance of The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey.

Directed by Christopher Fidram, The Drawer Boy tells the story of two elderly men, Morgan and Angus, who live together on a farm and are visited by an actor doing research for an upcom•ing play about farming.

The premise sounds pretty straight forward, if not even a little concocted(although based on a true story), but you soon find out that there is nothing easy about life on the farm — at least not this farm. Healy has woven a plot and characters that take as many twists and turns as a drunk cow wondering the pasture. When the two farmers are visited by an actor(Miles), stories of their past abound, engulfing the audience in the power and influence of story-telling.

Morgan, played by Craig Petrie, seems to be the elder of the two farmers and the one who keeps the farm going on a day-to-day basis. Although not thrilled about the visiting Miles and his efforts to chronicle his life, he makes it clear that he can stay as long as he gets his hands dirty and helps out. Petrie presents a strong portrayal of Morgan as the controlling force in the household. He forms a very believable character and does so with such a natural style that it almost seems effortless. All of the characters must move quickly from comedic to dramatic moods and Petrie doesn’t miss a beat in either direction.

Co-resident, Angus, played by local stage veteran Terry Shears, is a bit different to say the least. We see from his first line that there is much we will learn about this character as the play progresses. Memory challenged and in constant need of supervision, Angus seems to have the mentality of someone much younger than his years — yet has the ability to calculate figures at an astronomical rate. Shears is fascinating to watch. His development of the character and his grasp of the many sides of Angus can be termed as nothing short of an acting lesson. Angus is a tough character to make real and convincing but Shears shines in every facet. Plus the consistency of his performance never wanes. I have seen Shears on stage many times but this could be Shears at his best.

Hunter Thomas gives a great performance as Miles, the actor who invades the farmers’ lives. Although Miles starts out as an outsider looking into the two men’s lives, he quickly becomes deeply woven into their lives as a participant. Thomas handles the role expertly as the wide-eyed actor looking for information at the beginning but develops and molds the character of Miles into a strong more mature adult by the time the figurative curtain falls. His ability to shift moods seamlessly makes the character very real. All three actors turn the show on a dime several times and provide some very moving moments on stage.

This show makes it clear why Fidram is one of the premier directors in the area. He has directed The Drawer Boy with a sincere love of the piece and has delivered up a show that should not be missed.

The set by Fidram and Johnny Pecano is simple and fitting for the Moyer Room and does not overcrowd the space or the actors. Lighting by Ellen Licitra and Pecano conveys indoor and outdoor scenes well with the limited lighting available in the space.

The Drawer Boy is captivating theater — don’t miss it!

The Drawer Boy
Youngstown Playhouse
Nov. 15, 16 @ 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 10, 17 @ 2:30 p.m.
330 788 8739

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