The Drawer Boy

Photo of (Left) Michael Leopard (Morgan) and (Right) Duane Black (Angus)
(Left) Michael Leopard (Morgan)
and (Right) Duane Black (Angus)
Photo Credit: P. Switzer
To protect ourselves and our loved ones, all of us have made up stories that smooth out the rough edges of personal history. In the Arvada Center's regional premiere of Michael Healey's The Drawer Boy, two middle-aged Canadian farmers, best friends since childhood and later army buddies, live a secluded and simple life held up by just such a mythology. All of this changes when the gruff but kind-hearted, Morgan, who cares for the war-injured Angus, agrees to temporarily take in Miles, a young, city-based actor in search of a real farming experience.

Photo of Duane Black (Angus)
Duane Black (Angus)
Photo Credit: P. Switzer
Angus, whose head injury has bound him to a simple, childlike, memory-less here and now, daily beseeches Morgan for an oft-repeated story that provides him with reassurance on the meaning of his life. Duane Black's Angus is a finely-tuned study of the vast, uncharted space between once-familiar thoughts, and the subconscious need to make sense out of his condition. Mixing a gentle demeanor with sudden anxiety attacks, Black gives us a real taste of the brain divided: he can manipulate numbers much like the Rain Man, and helps Morgan analyze their farm's economics; yet, upon meeting Miles each morning, he is startled, as if catching a stranger in his house.

Photo of Michael Leopard (Morgan)
Michael Leopard (Morgan)
Photo Credit: P. Switzer
Ambling around Joan Cimyotte's detailed farm house set, Michael Leopard's Morgan balances a grizzle-voiced, muscular work horse exterior with a thoughtful, sometimes mischievous interior. As Angus' fiercely loyal protector, he worries over Miles' well-meaning attempts to liberate Angus' memories through theatre games and stories, and is not beyond prescribing meaningless, even absurd, tasks to Miles as punishment.

Photo of (Left) Andrew Kelso (Miles) and Duane Black (Angus)
(Left) Andrew Kelso (Miles)
and Duane Black (Angus)
Photo Credit: P. Switzer

Underneath his fresh-faced naïveté toward the rural life, Andrew Kelso, as Miles, reveals a well-developed therapeutic sense rooted in his character's dramatic training. Despite Morgan's disapproval, Miles' instincts and genuine concern for Angus lead him to introduce role-playing as a means to unearth long-buried secrets.

The deepest scars of war are those that we can't see. Somewhere in the emotional recesses of those who have lived through carnage, there lie memories seemingly too terrible to remember. Yet, in an effort to keep these demons at bay, the playwright shows us that, cut off from that which gives us context, we often produce behavior of equally damaging consequences. Our liberation, he argues, is in having the courage to face those memories, and heal what they once tore asunder.

Keeping to a unhurried pace that reflects both the rhythms of the agrarian life and the healing process of the mind, Director Jane Page allows us to experience natural dynamics of three well-drawn characters. Wrapped in period music from Canadian recording artists, unfolds like the well-weathered wheat fields from which it is drawn. It runs through October 5th. 720-898-7200.

Bob Bows


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