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Friday, Oct 04, 2013 - Canvassed | Art & culture

'Few' if any subtle messages

Personal ads speak loudest in Old Globe world premiere

By David Coddon
theater Eva Kaminsky and Michael Laurence in The Few.
- Photo by Jim Cox

The Few could well be the answer to this rhetorical question: How many people today read newspapers? But in Samuel D. Hunter's one-act play The Few, making its world premiere at The Old Globe in Balboa Park, at least one newspaper boasts a truckload of readers. Of course, the story is set in the waning, pre-Y2K days of 1999. And, the folks reading the newspaper (also called The Few) are doing so exclusively for the personal ads that constitute its content.

But this slow-moving tale asserts that human beings in all their loneliness and quiet desperation will do whatever they can to make a connection, and that the truckin' crowd is no exception. They're the personal-ad writers and readers in The Few, and the forlorn trio producing the little paper from the inside of a trailer parked in Idaho are lonely-hearts facilitators.

Other than a startling (but rather funny) sequence in which young Matthew (Gideon Glick) peppers sad-sack Brian (Michael Laurence) with "ammo" from a BB gun, The Few lopes along at tortoise speed. Significant pauses, intense stares between Brian and his unrequited co-publisher, QZ (Eva Kaminsky), and Brian's wrestling with inner demons (implied in his ceiling-ward gazes and hanging of head) result in a slower-than-leisurely pace.

Ultimately, QZ and Brian openly confront each other and reveal their secrets, but they never let fly as we keep waiting for them to do. Matthew's a messed-up kid who, in spite of that, seems to have a future ahead of him with more possibilities than the grown-ups have. His knack for poetry raises hope that the BB-gun thing is not a harbinger of more dangerous episodes to come.

Oddly, the answering-machine messages—personal ads dictated by readers of the little paper—are much more interesting than the three live characters. (They were recorded by 17 San Diegans who actually auditioned). Natural and spontaneous sounding, they avoid the "good buddy" trucker stereotype to which a lesser production might have resorted. These lonely people could be anyone from anywhere across the Great Divide.

The Few could use more of them.

 
 
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