The Drawer Boy, Brunton, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Mull Theatre
Alasdair McCrone (director) Alan Melvin (set construction/scenic art), Martin Low (sound design), Mick Andrew (lighting design), Shirley Robinson (costume design)
Alicia Hendrick (production design)
Alasdair McCrone (Angus), Barrie Hunter (Morgan), James Mackenzie (Miles)
Running time

Mull Theatre has re-staged its highly successful 2013 production of what is now a modern classic from Canadian writer, Michael Healy. First staged in 1999, this award winning play with an all- male cast is a slow unwinding of a past sadness shown through the interplay of three men.

Miles (James Mackenzie) is an eager young actor and aspiring playwright who wants to write a play about farming. He comes across the isolated farmhouse of the two lifelong friends Morgan, the hard working farmer (Barrie Hunter) and the lost but happy Angus (Alasdair McCrone) who share the farm. It is agreed that he works his keep while gathering material. His naïve and urban presence is a catalyst to the raw exposure of the past sorrowful secrets of love and loss from WW11 of the two country men.

Slow, lazy guitar and strings sounds set the perfect tone for this gentle, compact tale about the complicated kindness of lying. In fact the aptly chosen music throughout is a pleasure for its poignant sounds that augment the already moving drama; sounds that are so perfectly in tune with the play. The delightful set of pale distressed green wood that shows the men’s farmhouse kitchen where bread is made and sandwiches are perpetually on offer is neatly realized. The lighting effectively takes us from sunlight to starry skies where Angus escapes confusion and achieves serenity in counting stars with stunning accuracy.

The trigger of the city boy Miles, on whom some cruel country tricks are played by Morgan, exposes gaps in the story of their life narrated as a children’s tale that’s as wide as the shotgun gaps in the house’s walls. Angus’recognition at the play’s rehearsal is like a theatrical version of Killing Me Softly. The touching ending is full of human affirmation as his selective memory slowly pans out to encompass a sore reality.

This beautifully written self-referential piece that captures the universal in the personal is acted out with tight precision by the three strong cast. The theme of truth within fiction and the quiet depth of a ‘fast bound’ friendship is skillfully written and portrayed with conviction. The play is a circular result of Healey’s homage to an earlier Canadian theatrical event in which rural research was undertaken by actors resulting in The Farm Show that was produced by Theatre Passe Muraille, who in turn premiered The Drawer Boy in 1999. Redemption without recourse to violence is refreshing in this particular male world.

This tour that has mostly been hosted by small Scottish venues is now ended.