NY Theater Review By Avis Alger
It was an absolute honor to be in the audience of this fine work, The Few, at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and a privilege to be able to review it. I stood up immediately at the final black out and was compelled to shout “Bravo!”
This is the type of production that, if on Broadway, would win the Tony award. This is the type of work that can save our industry, and, yes, we are having an epidemic on a cultural level. We no longer understand oral tradition and are massacring the art of story telling. Regardless the medium: radio, television, film, variety shows, reality tv, on and off Broadway live theater, we have veered far away from the science and math of what formed the structures that moved audiences. And this work, coincidentally titled The Few, by Obie winner Samuel D. Hunter, is a glorious example of what doing it right should look like.
This is a poignant story of how we are all one, the importance of connection and morale, and the powers of loving with an open non-judgmental heart. It’s the end of the millennium, 1999. Bryan is a former long distance truck driver. He and his now deceased best friend, also a truck driver, and former girlfriend QZ, set out to help other truck drivers feel less isolated by creating an inspiring newspaper called “The Few.” During its prime, they were like a “church without God”. Someone had suggested an article with pictures called “Sunrises at McDonald’s in 43 States.” After the unexpected passing of his best friend, Bryan left unannounced for 4 years, and has now returned, which is where our story begins. The paper has turned into a dating resource. QZ has a young high school graduate doing the bulk of the work; Matthew, and everything Bryan and QZ once had, has changed to its antithesis.
What a phenomenal, stellar cast and creative team. The three actors featured: Gideon Glick (Matthew), Michael Laurence (Bryan), and Tasha Lawrence (QZ), were flawless. The opening scene begins with Bryon’s unannounced return where QZ asks him “why have you come back?” They hold a decadent silence for roughly 3 minutes. There was so much history in that pregnant pause – remarkable. All three actors owned the truth of every aspect of these characters. They did their job brilliantly, as did all of the voice over artists featured on the answering machine. The audience had a rare chance to witness the power of old school Radio Theater in a contemporary setting. Let’s bring that genre back to life too. I only have praise for the entire creative team: Director Davis McCallum, Artistic Director David Van Asselt, Composition and Music Designer Daniel Kluger, Set Designer Dane Laffery, Costume Designer Jessica Pabst, Lighting Designer Eric Southern, and Properties Master Andrew Diaz.
Our epidemic about broken oral tradition goes deeper than weak plot lines and lack of character development. Much like the truck drivers in The Few, we, as a culture, are isolating from each other more and more. We don’t share linear experiences as much. The miraculous thing about the theater is that it is linear; you go in one way, share the same experience with a group of strangers, and come out changed.
The Few will keep you enthralled, make you laugh hysterically, make you cry, make you rage, and leave you changed, so grateful to have seen it.
It is a poignant piece not only for its message about humanity, or the amazing script, production, creative team, and remarkable cast, but because it is a noble universal story, set in a lesser known world; one worth sharing to which we can relate. It’s an incredibly well structured intricate script, with one perfect meticulous set, and on a low budget. It’s a show everyone can afford to see many times, and bring us all back to the theater, the original “church without God.”
*Photos: Joan Marcus