GREATER CLEMENTS Last Night (Possible Spoiler)
Posted by: sergius 01:07 pm EST 11/28/19

Samuel D. Hunter writes modest plays. They almost always take place in Idaho and depict the lives of working class middle Americans struggling with some kind or degree of lack--of time, of opportunity--in the midst of an eroding social fabric. GREATER CLEMENTS is in this vein, and it's typically feelingful and sympathetic. Here, Hunter is mostly concerned with the consequences of racism and familial mental illness. These are big subjects, of course, and they're treated throughout with nuance and subtlety. But then the play collapses in a sort of structurally cliched way and what had previously been tenderly devastating becomes very loudly so. Suddenly Hunter starts capitalizing his intentions. This turn toward the big incident--and an equally sizable message--is disappointing; it's as if Hunter suddenly distrusts his capacity to find impact in quietude or is worried that it won't be enough for his audience. Despite this frustrating miscalculation, the play is engaging and beautifully acted. Judith Ivey is expectably good, but the real pleasure here is Edmund Donovan, a uniquely talented young actor, who is just heartbreaking. He perfectly embodies Hunter's dedication to a practiced compassion that's both genuine and figurative and, on its own, more than enough.

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