Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
Like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous passage (Tales of a Wayside Inn, part 3, section 4, 1854), driving an 18 wheeler across thousands of miles of desolate interstates is a lonely business; so lonely, if fact, that many truckers feel that they are disappearing from life, into the “darkness” and “silence.”
In Samuel D. Hunter’s The Few, now receiving its regional premiere by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Bryan (Michael Morgan), his long-time girlfriend QZ (Lindsey Pierce), and their old friend, Jim, started a paper, The Few, “to remind us, the few of us who live this way, that we still exist.” Bryan’s musings on trucking were the featured content.
After an unexplained four-year absence, Bryan shows up at the funky office of The Few, where he finds QZ and Matthew (John Hauser), Jim’s 19-year old nephew, still putting out the paper, which is now heavy with personal ads and light on content. It’s a short time until New Year’s Day, 2000, which has the world obsessing over various doomsday scenarios that could happen when Y2K comes up on the clocks of the operating systems on all the computers.
Morgan explores the dead ends of Bryan’s life—no relationship, no car, no money, and no place to stay—with a gritty performance that takes in the loneliness and anxiety of existential questions, repeatedly emerging from this isolation to fire pot shots at QZ’s and Matthew’s efforts, while medicating himself with alcohol to dull his pain. Pierce’s nuanced leveraging of QZ’s empowerment at having brought the paper out of debt enables her to press Bryan over their personal issues, as well as over the focus of the paper. Hauser deftly navigates the arc of Matthew’s coming of age until, he, too, holds his own with Bryan, yet is willing to accept some tough love from him as well as from QZ.
Hunter’s lonesome highway metaphor provides rich subtextual commentary on the human condition, and comes up roses by avoiding fatalistic choices and finding an elegant solution for each character’s dilemma. That’s a big 10-4!
Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s regional premiere of The Few, directed by Kate Folkins, runs through November 15th. For tickets: 303-444-SEAT or betc.org.