The Christopher Shinn play Four is the latest production to take to the boards at Washington’s Studio Theatre. As the title suggests, the piece is a four person play. It focuses on one 4th of July in the lives of four people who at first glance seem very different, but in the end they have many similarities.
June is a naïve sixteen year-old boy who is meeting up for a liaison with the married and much older Joe. Joe has a teenage daughter of his own, Abigayle. Abigayle is a bright and responsible young woman. She takes off on her own journey with a cocky young drug dealer named Dexter.
As the two couples travel to their separate destinations, it is soon obvious that they are all searching for something. They strive to discover their own identities while reaching out to someone else. Sadly, the characters never seem satisfied with the results of their search.
Christopher Shinn’s writing is smart and a bit edgy. He captures the language of his younger characters quite well. Shinn is also adept at recognizing the need for comedic moments and they are suitably placed. Most importantly, he makes one care about these characters even when they don’t inspire concern.
The piece is directed by Kate Davis and she does a fine job. Each character makes an impact and the play flows nicely. She leads an able cast that seems to really understand their individual characters.
Scott Kerns is the picture of innocence as June. At times it is painful to watch Kerns, but not because he gives a poor performance. It is because Kerns conveys June’s discomfort so successfully. David Lamont Wilson plays Joe, the source of some of that discomfort. Wilson plays Joe as confident and cocky, a good contrast to the timid June. As Joe’s daughter Abigayle, Maya Lynne Robinson is all attitude and her performance is delightful. She connects well with Cesar A. Guadamuz, who also gives an outstanding performance. Together, the two are a believable couple.
Greg Mitchell is responsible for the very simple set design. Made up of four chairs, a few risers and a door, the design places focus where it should be – the action on stage. Colin K. Bills’ lighting adds drama and LeVonne Lindsay’s costumes communicate the character’s personas.
Four is an engrossing play but it is not an easy piece to watch. It makes one feel as if they are spying through someone’s keyhole and witnessing events that they are not meant to see. That element is what makes Four work so well. Four runs through February 1st.
The Studio Theatre
June: Scott Kerns