By Tulis McCall
Well Theresa Rebeck has hit it out of the park. She has molded her play, DIG, and this fine cast into a production that dazzles.
In a nowhere town there is a sad plant store named “dig” (which we only see in reverse on the glass door so it looks like “gib”) that belongs to the even sadder Roger (the chameleon Jeffrey Bean). The plant store itself is chockablock full of greenery (the set by Christopher Swader and Justin Swader is stunning) and his friend Lou (Triney Sandoval) is about to add to the inventory by returning a plant that is not quite dead. The same could be said for his daughter Megan (a brilliant Andrea Syglowski) who has tagged along. Megan has nowhere else to be since she was released from the hospital after she tried to killed herself.
And that’s the good news.
Megan’s past follows her around like a drunken dog, and wherever it goes people are sure to suffer. For some unknown reason Roger decides to let Megan have a place in the shop. Neither intern nor paid employee. Just a helper. And she turns out to be a good one. His actual employee, Everett (Greg Keller) is of less use and usually stoned. We see an example of his state in an early scene that is lyrical and hilarious until it turns dangerous. Such is the skill of Ms, Rebeck as a writer and director.
Everyone has an opinion about Megan, as does she herself. The opinions pile on so heavily one is surprised that she doesn’t break. When she does, the pace of the tale turns into a runaway train and we hang on white knuckled. In Megan we see a character who refuses to be bowed even when she is at the bottom of the pool. She is a woman of choices, even though it may appear that her life is filled with arbitrary actions.
Megan is like a whirling dervish who affects everyone around her almost without knowing it. She is not alive unless she connects with people, and how she does that has no particular logic or order. Roger, on the other hand, is bordering on being a recluse. He likes everything in its place, including plants and humans. In addition, he knows that photosynthesis is the most important chemical reaction on the face of the planet earth. Compared to that, humans get a failing grade.
Rebeck creates characters that lift themselves off the page while you watch. She throws in some conflict, always a touch of betrayal, and opposing points of view on everything from grammar to assault. Then she sets them loose on each other.
As in her many other plays, these are not stupid characters. They are smart people who do stupid things while we watch. They stand their ground and only compromise when they choose to because they know that balance is not maintained if you let other people push you around. Two of those people who want to push are brilliantly played by Greg Keller as Everett and David Mason as Adam, Megan’s ex-husband. Their willingness to show us their characters’ full blown threats to Megan raises the stakes to a place we had not imagined going.
And if you are paying attention, you will see that as the play concludes Rebeck drops us off in the neighborhood near where the story started. Where truth was a bargaining chip. Curiosity was the coinage of the realm. And possibility was almost DOA.
This is a majestic play. Get there.
DIG written and directed by Theresa Rebeck
The cast of Dig includes Mary Bacon, Jeffrey Bean, Greg Keller, David Mason, Triney Sandoval, Andrea Syglowski.
Dig features scenic design by Christopher & Justin Swader, costume design by Fabian Aguilar, lighting design by Mary Ellen Stebbins
At Primary Stages through October 22, 2023. TICKETS HERE