The Playwrights Co-op, in staging a new script, "To See What He Could See," has given three young actors a chance to stretch their talents in the interplay of a bizarre threesome in a bizarre situation.
The result is not a play but rather one of those interesting evenings in experimental theater that we remembered for a scene, a few lines, a performance or an imaginative directorial touch.
There was an opportunity to appreciate all these last night at the performance of "To See What He Could See" in the loft theater of the downtown Washington Project for the Arts.
Playwright Paul Hastings, whose background in the theater includes both scenic design and acting, has assembled an odd trio to meet at a clearing in the woods.
There is Henry (The Rev. Hank). a charismatic, Marjoe-like evangelist preacher, who has come back to the site of his burned-out family home. There is Mrs. Walker (Priscilla), a waitress-turned-promoter, who sees money in incorporating The Rev. Hank Productions. And there is Jack, the earthman who appears out of the woods and Henry's past.
The difficulty is that there is no focus to this three-way relationship. Hastings offers an absurd story line to bring his characters together. Yet he can write a scene with emotion and tension and handle dialogue and he has created at least one fascinating character.
Sean O'Halloran gives a striking performance as Henry. He is the stemwinder preacher as he rehearses his "honeybee" sermon for prospective women investors in The Rev. Hank Productions. He can be wrenchingly pathetic as the confused young man seeking his past and finding comfort in fantasy rather than the truth.
As Priscilla, Lisa Brown deftly handles a role that takes her from a calculating money-seeker to a nature girl of the woods. Ted Schneider is full of both silent strength and explosive anger as the man of the woods.
Perry Schwartz, the director, is founder of Playwrights Co-op, which is dedicated to the development of new scripts and gives playwrights a chance to see their works performed. He has staged "To See What He Could See" with affectionate care and detention. The set by Jim Albert Hobbs works well.
"To See What He Could See" will be performed through Sunday at 8 p.m. at the WPA 1227 G St. NW. Performances will resume June 4 through July 8.