The Bus

  • Our critic's rating:
    October 1, 2011

    Review by Tulis McCall
    (11 Oct 2011)

    This is a charming and upsetting play. It has the flavor of Our Town with a little Alfred Hitchcock tossed in. Small town America with a little ground glass stuck inside your shoe.

    Harry (Travis Mitchell) owns a Texaco station on which is parked a bus with a sign painted on it: an arrow and the words “Golden Rule”. It was originally a marker for people looking for the evangelical church up the road. Now that the church has become Mega, the bus is not really needed. And now that Harry’s marriage is over and his ex-wife and son belong to that church, the bus is not really wanted.

    An important add-on is that the bus IS wanted by Harry’s son Ian (Will Roland) and his high school lover Jordan (Bryan Fitzgerald). It is their secret meeting place and the only spot in town where they feel safe. This is Matthew Shepard country.

    Leading us along in this tale is The Little Girl (Julia Lawler) who may be little, but she carries the weight of the story on her shoulders. Much like the Stage Manager in Our Town, she asks us to imagine a world that leaps outside the tiny theatre. In the capable hands of Ms. Lawler we can indeed imagine. As a matter of fact Ms. Lawler is so very good in this role we almost don’t need anyone else. She is in control of her craft and clear as a bell with every move she makes.

    When Harry decides to take legal action against the church, it is not met with loving hearts. The church soon comes close to shutting Harry down via a boycott. Harry’s ex-wife Sarah (Kerry McGann) is clearly on the side of the angels and is embarrassed by Harry and his bull-headed ways. Even Harry’s co-worker Sloat (Robert Nuner) is losing confidence in Harry’s ability to tell right from wrong.

    It is only when Ian takes matters in hand that the community is pushed to the breaking point.

    This is a simply told tale of a complicated community because it is filled with humans. The wants and needs and aching hearts are laid out like a deck of cards and we are asked only to accompany The Little Girl through her town. We are not asked to take sides, and because this is a tale told with great care, we find it difficult to do so – even though we would like to.

    This is a more than worthy night at the theatre. Come see it before it goes on the road, straight to the heartland.

    (Tulis McCall)

    What the popular press said...

    "The characters feel like tools to prove a worthwhile though hackneyed point."
    Suzy Evans for Back Stage

    External links to full reviews from popular press...

    Back Stage