November 2007

The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey
Directed by Ruth Madoc-Jones
Oct. 23 – Nov. 25, 2007 Theatre Passe Muraille Toronto
One Drew Pictures. One Was A Farmer.
by David Fujino

This was my first time.

Of course, I knew a little about The Drawer Boy (1999) and its history as a modern classic, but I had never seen it actually staged.

It's based on the true story of Theatre Passe Muraille's The Farm Show (1972) which is about a group of actors who lived on a farm in Clinton, Ontario, and then wrote a play about it.

Michael Healey's award-winning play, The Drawer Boy, tells a similar story.

One day a young actor from Toronto lands on the doorstep of Morgan's farmhouse.

"I'm from Toronto", Miles says, and Morgan answers, "That's too bad."

Miles rebounds and explains that he's come to "learn about farming while I write a play about it", but the wary Morgan is still unimpressed, whereas the second farmer — the slower and more domestic Angus — openly shows interest in Miles' ambitious project.

All the same, Miles ends up working on the farm, where he eventually discovers a major and illuminating truth about these two brotherly bachelor farmers.

It turns out that during their service in World War I, Angus and Morgan met two sisters, Sally and Frances. They were a mirror image of the two men; they were inseparable and deeply connected to each other. And Angus married Sally. But that was then.

While the two farmers and their stories are the focus and sum of this very humanistic play, we hasten to note that Miles, as played by Frank Cox-O'Connell, is no mere foil. Miles was portrayed as sensitive and inherently sensible. At the same time, a bulky physicality and a lilting speech pattern defined Randy Hughson's character, Angus, and Morgan was appropriately played by John Jarvis as a lean and watchful man.

The Drawer Boy is humorous and thoughtful — and a good example of real life turned into fiction — fiction that changes how people think about each other.

And I enjoyed the play's sense of symmetry.

At play's end, Miles has just left for Toronto, and Morgan rushes into the kitchen and announces to Angus that before leaving, the actor Miles — city boy — actually milked all the cows!

Miles — Frank Cox-O'Connell
Angus — Randy Hughson
Morgan — John Jarvis
We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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