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GREATER CLEMENTS last night
Posted by: NeoAdamite 03:26 pm EST 11/30/19

In spite of of their often gloomy plots, Samuel D. Hunter is generally a hopeful writer: his characters may make bad choices, but they are seldom truly trapped. A BRIGHT NEW BOISE, THE FEW, THE HEALING, POCATELLO, even THE WHALE - each offers its characters the possibility of a fresh start.

Not here.

Judith Ivey stars as Maggie, a mother who has been visited by every ordinary hardship that can befall a parent, and several extraordinary horrors as well. She runs a museum devoted to the history of a local mine, supporting herself and her adult son by giving tours.

The mine has been closed for many years, and now a local political dustup in the town has incidentally put a stop to the tours as well. Her father died in the mine; her husband left her for a man; her 28-year-old son struggles with mental illness; what happens now? The story dangles one possible way out.

Alas for the story, Maggie's problems are not of her own making, and the hope offered starts thin and gets steadily thinner. The result is a harrowing tragedy whose psychology owes more to the doomed heroes of Martin McDonagh (or Stephen King) than the misguided ones of Eugene O'Neill.

Others have noted a weak third act and a deus ex machina in the epilogue. Perhaps those result from a nearly powerless protagonist?

Edmund Donovan stands out with a bravely pitch-perfect performance as Maggie's son.
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