Hubbard Hall’s “The Drawer Boy” is Down to Earth Storytelling at its Best [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Gail Burns and Larry Murray
Larry Murray: Sitting in on the dress rehearsal for Hubbard Hall’s “The Drawer Boy” in Cambridge, New York last night was a real treat. First off, I suppose we should point out that the title refers to a person who draws, and is therefore pronounced draw-er and that the “boy” in question is no longer a boy.
The author uses the title as a metaphor for the healing power of art. But I am getting ahead of myself. It is important to put this wonderful tale in context: it actually has a lot to do with our part of the world.
One of the wonderful things about living where Massachusetts, New York and Vermont intersect is that we have farmers all around us. I have met dozens at the farmers market, and while making purchases at small scale operations like the raw milk provider Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, the veggie paradise Clear Brook Farm in Shaftsbury, VT, and the Lewis Waite Farm in Greenwich, NY which raises grass fed beef and apple fed pork. I love the connection we all have to the earth in these parts, don’t you? Local food operations are a lot like local theatre operations, they are all small scale, hands-on enterprises.
Gail Burns: I certainly do, but the emergence of CSAs and the resurrengence of local farms is very, very recent. The non-GMO, organic, Know-Your-Farmer locally grown food movement is “hot” now, but it certainly wasn’t in 1972, the year in which this play is set. At that point North Americans were just beginning to understand that not all the food in the supermarket came from a local family farm, and the word “organic” had just entered our vocabulary as consumers.
Larry: The affinity I feel for the farmers who have persevered came bubbling to the surface last night. It seems the two long-time Canadian farmers in Michael Healey’s play have stuck it for more than thirty years, and despite a serious war injury to Angus (Philip Kerr), his wartime comrade Morgan (Benjie White) has stuck by him for all those years, even after their lady friends/wives had departed the scene. At its heart this is a play about simply being human, and all the complex and interwoven threads that flows from this.