With the current production of Samuel D. Hunter's beautifully written "A Great Wilderness," David Miller and his Zeitgeist Stage Company return to familiar terrain. For several years, this gritty fringe theatre company has pitched its tent on the sloping ground of tackling complex issues of sexuality and sexual identity. This play about a place where young boys undergo conversion to hetereosexual orientation is right in the Zeitgeist wheelhouse. And the production is flawless and deeply moving.
Mr. Hunter has created six complex characters that interact in kaleidoscopic ways.
- Walt (A very moving Peter Brown) has been running a camp to try to help teenage boys deal with inappropriate impulses. His motivation is to try to atone for the suicide of his son many years before. He is slowly sinking into dementia, and his best friend and ex-wife have arranged for him to find a place in an appropriate home. As a favor to a frantic mother, he decides to take on one last camper as his swan song.
- Abby (A sympathetic and exasperated Shelley Brown) is Walt's ex-wife, and she is now married to Tim. Over the years, Abby and Tim have helped Walt to run the camp, but they are convinced he needs to be gently forced out of there. She still carries guilt for the death of their son.
- Tim (a steadying influence in times of crisis as portrayed by Thomas Grenon) is torn between his friendship with Walt and his need to support Abby in her decision that they will not keep the camp going after Walt's retirement, much to Walt's dismay.
- Janet (A perky, unflappable, and professionally aloof Park Ranger as portrayed by Kathy LaShay Berenson). After initially doubting Walt and his mission, she has become a friend, but now must step into a deteriorating situation once a crisis presents itself, and Walt is reluctant to make a panicked move.
- Daniel (Jake Orozco-Herman) is a precociously fine young actor portraying a scared kid who has been forced to come to Walt's camp. Unsure how to act as the lone "patient" at Walt's place, Daniel wonders off, gets lost and triggers a cascading series of troubling events.
- Eunice (A distraught and eventually disgusted Christine Power), mother of Daniel who is fighting her fundamentalist husband on the one hand, and Walt on the other hand. She wants action in finding Daniel; Walt wants to wait.
|(L to R): Thomas Grenon, Kathy LaShay Berenson, Peter Brown, |
Zeitgeist Stage production of "A Great Wilderness"
(Photo by Joel W. Benjamin, Background by Fran Forman)
Through May 21st at Boston Center for the Arts
Tickets for A Great Wilderness