It was 40 years ago when a Toronto theater company crafted the basis of a play by sending a group of actors to live and work on the farms of Ontario. The experiment became a landmark in Canadian theater and was the inspiration for Michael Healey’s “The Drawer Boy,” now playing at Port City Playhouse.
Set in 1972, the play opens with Miles, a young thespian and aspiring playwright who turns up on the doorstep of Morgan and Angus, two World War II veterans who share a rural farm near Clinton, Ontario.
In the course of his research for a theater piece on farming, Miles discovers a rare bond of friendship between the world-weary Morgan and the cheerful and childlike Angus.
Directed by Jennifer Lyman, the talented cast delivers compelling performances from Elliott Bales as Morgan, Paul Tamney as Angus and Daniel Westbrook as Miles.
Morgan runs the farm and acts as caretaker for his lifelong friend Angus, who suffered brain damage in a bombing in London during the war. With little memory beyond the tasks of daily life on the farm, Angus is the “drawer” boy, a once-promising architect whose talents were erased by the war.
When the hapless Miles enters the picture, he uncovers the true story behind the rural existence of the two friends: That the wartime buddies were stationed together in Britain in the 1940s, where they met their future brides before returning home to Canada. What happened to the two women proves a mystery that slowly unfolds between fiction and reality.
The Friday, March 1, performance of “The Drawer Boy” will be followed by a special “talkback” with the director, cast and technical crew. Audience members will be able to ask questions and gain perspectives on the creative process and how a play goes from being a playwright’s script to a live performance on stage.
“The Drawer Boy” is playing now through March 9 at Port City Playhouse at Convergence, 1819 N. Quaker Lane. For tickets or more information, visit www.portcityplayhouse.com.