Amy Herzog is a modern playwright who challenges her audience, makes them think, and is not afraid to leave questions unanswered.
Such is the case with “The Great God Pan,” now getting a good production at Epic Theatre Company, under the direction of Juli Parker. When the lead actor had to pull out of the play, the peripatetic Kevin Broccoli jumped right in to play Jamie, a young journalist.
The slim plot revolves around Jamie’s boyhood friend, Frank (Michael Shawcross), who reconnects with him after 25 years, explaining that he is suing his own father for sexual abuse. Jamie is confronted with the possibility that he may also have been a victim.
While the 80-minute, one-act play deals with sexual abuse, it is more about repressed memory and self-discovery, as Jamie is prompted to recall events that may or may not have happened and to ponder over influences the past may have on his present situation. It is an interesting concept, left unresolved for the audience to draw their own conclusions.
Parker stages the play in the tiny Artists’ Exchange black box theatre, where chairs have been added to double audience size. A simple picture on the wall and movement of a chair suggests a different scene setting and works quite effectively.
Jamie has conversations with his mother, father, girlfriend and former babysitter in his quest to understand what may or may not have happened. The process puts a strain on his pregnant girlfriend and their relationship. A subplot has his girlfriend counseling a young anorexic girl. I’m sure Herzog had her reasons for adding this to the play, but I must admit that I didn’t make the connection.
Epic has once again challenged us with a contemporary play and playwright, raising interesting issues and leaving some unanswered.
The rest of the cast (Allison Crews, Mary Paolino, Bradford J. Greer, Meghan Rose Donnelly and Carol Drowne) maintain the Epic tradition of solid performances.
“The Great God Pan” is at Artists’ Exchange, 50 Rolfe St., Cranston, through March 22. For reservations, or more information go online at www.epictheatre.org or call 490-9475.