By: Lauren Yarger
November 8, 2018: Something’s not quite right in the small town of Williston, North Dakota.
That much is obvious just from the fact that oil company deal closers Barb (Kate Grimes) and Larry (Robert LuPone) are expected to share quarters in a trailer camp setting (drably designed Graham Kindred, who also designs the lighting). And how is it that their parent company didn’t let them know that they were sending a new numbers guy, Tom (Drew Ledbetter) to bring in the lease on one of the largest and possibly most productive tracts of land? After all, the killer team of Barb and Larry has been working for years on “Indian Jim,” the Native American holdout who is reluctant to allow drilling on his land.
Playwright Adam Seidel crafts a nifty three-hander where everything and everyone is not as it seems. A greedy corporate message takes a back seat in this work to the interaction among characters. We think we might know them. They may even think they know themselves, but when push comes to shove, .what they are willing to do to get ahead, make a buck and grab some power surprises all.
Deftly directed by Valentina Fratti, the actors are given the freedom to unwrap layers. Fratti keeps the action moving around the small stage to mimic the ever-changing status of the characters and their relationships to each other. We even experience a meeting where six other people are unseen.
Grimes goes deep as the seasoned woman who knows how to hold her own and get ahead in a man’s world. There are hints at more than just a business relationship between her and long-time collaborator, Larry. LuPone portrays a tough guy on the outside, but stuns with the revelation of a scared vulnerable man just under the surface. Ledbetter strikes a nice balance between his character’s innocent newbie facade and the ruthless power grabber who hides waiting for a chance to strike without mercy.
Just how far are people willing to go? In Williston, pretty far…
The limited run plays at IATI Theatre, 64 E 4th St., NYC, through Nov. 10 mirandatheatrecompany.com. There is a clever surprise takeaway at the conclusion of the 90-minute production.
Additional Credits: costume design by Matsy Stinson, sound design by Margaret Montagna.
By Adam Seidel
Directed by Valentina Fratti
Miranda Theatre Company
Through Nov. 10, 2018
Photo: Jeremy Daniel