"Tales of the Driven" at Subversive Theatre Collective
By ANTHONY CHASE
There is something sweetly old-fashioned about Kurt Schneiderman’s play, Tales of the Driven. In structure, it is la pièce bien faite, a perfectly balanced “well-made play,” in which every action leads clearly to the next and no thread is left untidy at the conclusion. Expect secrets to be revealed. Expect that a prop introduced with ominous import, early in the play, will figure prominently in the play’s conclusion. This show has everything but a purloined letter, a burning plantation, and a last will and testament discovered at the eleventh hour.
I found it all rather enjoyable.
What starts out as a didactic play about the inequity between the rulers and the ruled; or labor and owners; (or the drivers and the driven), evolves into a tale of the abuse of power involving sexual indiscretion and lack of personal accountability.
Without giving away a plot driven by surprises, let’s just say the despotic maneuvers of a local priest explode in his face against the backdrop of the visit of a troupe of strolling players, and the recent death of the daughter of the local blacksmith.
The central character of this tale is a child, played with game earnestness by ten-year old Nigel Williams. Elliott Fox plays the boy’s blacksmith father, a man whose apparent abusiveness is explained by a life of loss and betrayal. David Wysocki plays the charismatic leader of the performing troupe that limps into town with a broken wagon wheel, in need of the blacksmith’s services. Lawrence Rowswell plays the duplicitous local priest.
The play’s old-fashioned feeling is fueled less by its evoking of commedia dell’arte and medieval madrigal than by its structure, 1930s style set, lack of psychological complexity, and very large cast of supernumeraries.
As author and director, Schneiderman has heaped caring touches and gestures upon the production. His cast has rewarded him with deeply committed performances.
The play continues through February 23, Thu-Sat at 7:30. The Manny Fried Playhouse, 255 Great Arrow Ave., third floor (462-5549). www.subversivetheatre.org