Review: The Drawer Boy (Redtwist Theatre)

| February 12, 2016

Brian Parry and Aaron Kirby in Drawer Boy, Redtwist Theatre          

The Drawer Boy

Written by Michael Healey
Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr (map)
thru Feb 28  |  tix: $30-$35  | more info
Check for half-price tickets   


Warmth, raw emotion make for potent combination in this spellbinder


Brian Parry, Aaron Kirby and Adam Bitterman in Drawer Boy, Redtwist Theatre

Redtwist Theatre presents
The Drawer Boy

Review by Clint May 

A minor modern classic, The Drawer Boy is a story with a simple, solid foundation telling a powerful story about the power of storytelling. It poses a very cutting question with no easy answer—does the truth truly set us free? For the two WWII vets at the center of Redtwist Theatre’s stellar production, the answer is not so clear.

Adam Bitterman and Brian Parry in The Drawer Boy, Redtwist TheatreThe poet Muriel Rukeyser said “The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” Morgan (Adam Bitterman) must daily recreate the atomic building blocks of the world for his best friend Angus (Brian Parry). A bit of shrapnel in a London bombing thirty years ago took not only most of Angus’ memory but his ability to create new ones as well. Despite the lacuna at the center of his mind, Angus unwittingly echoes behaviors from his previous life such as counting stars or searching the house for who knows not what. Hermetically sealed from the world on a small farm outside Ontario, their humble bachelor life remains precarious but secure until a city-born interloper threatens the universe they’ve constructed.

On a quest for material for a play about rural life, Miles (Aaron Kirby) is a young proto-socialist who arrives at the farm hoping to learn by doing. Initially, Angus lets him stay on for nothing else than it’s both amusing to tease the academically cloistered naif with tall tales of the deep inner lives of cows, and satisfying to vent his frustration at the futility of the farming lifestyle. To Angus, Miles is simply a pleasant surprise almost the minute he leaves and returns to the room, and thanks to his condition, he doesn’t see them as different in age. A command of “make me a sandwich” is used whenever the reality of Angus’ delicate relationship to reality is threatened. When Miles overhears the story Angus tells Morgan about how they came to be alone in the country together, his decision to work it into his theatre sets in motion the release of a torrent of some decades old denial.

Brian Parry and Aaron Kirby in The Drawer Boy, Redtwist Theatre Aaron Kirby, Adam Bitterman and Brian Parry in Drawer Boy, Redtwist TheatreAdam Bitterman and Brian Parry in Drawer Boy, Redtwist TheatreAdam Bitterman and Aaron Kirby, The Drawer Boy, Redtwist Theatre Brian Parry and Aaron Kirby in Drawer Boy, Redtwist Theatre ChicagoBrian Parry, Adam Bitterman and Aaron Kirby in Drawer Boy, Redtwist Theatre

Drawer is a well-written, uncomplicated mystery story that relies more heavily than some on its actors to engage us in the emotional drama. Director Scott Weinstein has expertly modulated the trio of Redtwist members to find the reality of these characters and avoid any whiffs of melodrama (which, once you see it, you can see how that might be difficult to avoid). Kirby is a real charmer as a young man who is initially comic relief but must eventually contend with a much bigger personality to become the harbinger of truth. There’s never any real question that Parry will be brilliant in anything he’s in, and he only reinforces that belief by becoming a man who moves from mindlessly friendly to heartbreakingly exposed in devastating turns. In his Redtwist debut, Bitterman is a revelation as the salt of the earth Morgan. His distinctive gravelly voice and pragmatic disposition find notes of grace, humor, and fear in this wholly inhabited character.

Michael Healey’s writing in the late 90s was inspired by his experiences with The Farm Show, a theatre collective that transformed Canadian theatre in 1972 (the same year in which Drawer is set, making Miles an avatar of their spirit). The Drawer Boy is an alternately humorous and poignant memorial to the lives of these people. Don’t miss it.

Rating: ★★★★

The Drawer Boy continues through February 28 at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $30-$35 (seniors & students: $5 off), and are available by phone (773-728-7529) or online at (check for half-price tickets at More info at time: 2 hours, includes an intermission)

Brian Parry and Aaron Kirby in Drawer Boy, Redtwist Theatre

Photos by Jan Ellen Graves




Adam Bitterman (Morgan), Aaron Kirby (Miles), Brian Parry (Angus), James Bould, Christopher Graul, Devon Nimerfroh (understudies)

behind the scenes

Scott Weinstein (director), James Fleming (assistant director), Sam Garrott (stage manager), Melissa Nelson (assistant stage manager), Eric Luchen (scenic design, tech director), Daniel Friedman (lighting design), Karli Blalock (sound design), Matt Deitchman (original music), kClare McKellaston (costume design), Josh Hurley (prop design), Elise Kauzlaric (dialect coach), Catherine Miller (dramaturg, casting director), Maggie Mohr (assistant dramaturg), Chris Thoren (marketing), Charles Bonilla (box office manager), E. Malcolm Martinez (box office associate), Johnny Garcia (box office associate, associate producer), Michael Colucci (co-producer), Jan Ellen Graves (graphic designer, co-producer, photographer)


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Category: 2016 Reviews, Clint May, Redtwist Theatre

Comments (1)

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  1. Arden Kruger says:

    Tons of emotions were flowing through me during the play. Love trust happiness frustration and joy. The relationship between the two best friends was paramount. At the end I had tears in my eyes that came as the raw truth of their story and relationship came out.In real life I am a nurse and have had to take care of people with head injuries as Angus so I felt like I could relate to Morgan deep down. Both these actors performances were brilliant !!!!