Theater review: "Run Through the Unquiet Mind"
By Nelson Pressley
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Things to love about "Run Through the Unquiet Mind," the in-process piece about two survivalist brothers being chased across the wilds of Utah:
The way Scot McKenzie, as the older, tougher brother named True, holds himself on the stage of the Rasmuson Theater at the National Museum of the American Indian. With his wide stance and belly slightly forward, he looks like a bear and sniffs the air like one, too. You can tell True's a man, though, by the rifle with the fancy scope he's squinting through.
The ferocity of Dylan Myers as younger brother Early, first glimpsed in a tight grid of light that tells us he's in prison. The wiry Myers, shirtless and in ripped jeans, kicks off the show with a series of furious push-ups and near-manic rants about the crime his character had committed. The gritty acting and scenario have a cable-ready edge.
The use of sound and space in Rasmuson, an unusually handsome auditorium that deliberately brings ideas of nature inside. It's a round, warm room, with irregular wood plank walls and pin-light stars in the wavy dark-blue ceiling — perfect for a tale of two roughnecks who pride themselves on living off the grid and in sync with Mother Earth.
And that sound. Wind. Water. Quiet, then a distant gunshot. As actors, McKenzie and Myers are impressively at ease with stillness.
These are snapshots of a piece that describes itself the same way: as a snapshot. "Run Through" is a devised piece by a collective of local theater artists called Rootstock Field, and it was begun only six weeks ago; it's bound to change. The show is part of this spring's Wattage series by Capital Fringe, champions of all things new.
Not surprisingly, the plot is the least polished part of the written-by-committee drama. McKenzie and Myers co-wrote with Christopher Gallu, who co-directed with McKenzie, and the result is much more conventional than you'd expect. The waste-no-words dialogue is intriguing, but the drama is conventionally built on conversations, even when the increasingly delusional characters are talking to themselves.
For suspense, the group goes in for the old trick of withholding information. There's a heck of a situation driving this scamper through nature, which includes a nut-job father in the not-so-deep background (he used to make the boys find their way home from the deep woods), and there are remnants of some sort of underground survivalist network. The slow drip of facts seems less like a considered literary tactic, though, than a reluctance to fully develop a plot.
But hey — it's a run-through.