Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Logger, a play in two ax"

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note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Joe Coyne

"The Logger, a play in two ax"

Playwright Rusty DeWees
Director Rusty DeWees
Performed Rusty DeWees

All the characters and machines Rusty DeWees

On stage there is no set and just a few props: a gallon jug labeled maple syrup (Vermont rather than Trader Joe's) , a McDonald's bag and some things in a plastic baggy of the "paper or plastic" request. Rusty strides out, revs up his air chainsaw and over the next hour plus in conversation and story he introduces us to his fellow Green Mountain Men (and women). Think of Mark Twain's red haired illegitimate son.

Via characters named Little, Craig and Harlan, we gain a skewered look at those maniacs to the North as they visit the big Apple, try very unsuccessfully to jack faux-deer and travel on roads big enough so as two cars can travel in the same direction. From the story of the one legged dog being dragged frisbee style across the aromatic Vermont woods to the receipt of some experienced medical advice on an easy way to remove kidney stones, you enter their strange world indeed. Rather than the term "Rednecks" Vermonters see themselves as "Woodchucks". Bostonians and essentially the rest of the world are referred to as "Flatlanders". You are a woodchuck if you know the method the Vermont school authorities utilize to delay school openings on snow days. What is a dangerous quantity of snow in Eastern Massachusetts is a Vermont dusting.

Little is Rusty's traveling companion and he has exceptional uses for his dead mother's Nair hair remover and chooses the night life of NYC over the New England sky. Another of the characters presides over Sunday dinner combining the skills of his twin professions: preacher man and auctioneer.

The show is the creation of Rusty DeWees who has been the sole logger on the solo performance circuit for about five years. He had tried a hand at acting in New York for eleven years and opted for a calmer life. Rusty traverses the stage in dancing, stomping, squatting, and stretching versions of a Northern kingdom snowdance, drinking something other than syrup from the jug. Even his spiel to flog t-shirts and calenders is part of the act. He is easy to watch, controlling the stage with his calm pauses. The humor while often sitting on the top of the piece, is more often below the surface as well. He is a keen observer of men and their foibles and not caught up in the topical times. Part of the enjoyment is his apparent self observation with reflections on relationships going or gone awry. I enjoyed the darker parts, where life was a struggle, but what the hell you just get on with it.

His quoting of C. S. Lewis, ". . . ceasing to be "in love" need not mean ceasing to love" has you thinking, he can see the trees, he can see the forest and he knows the difference.

If you want some chuckles, some poignant humor amid somber touches, then save the trip to Stowe till later now that the foliage has ended and take in Rusty at the ICA.

Joe Coyne

"The Logger, a play in two ax" (November 1 - December 2)
Institute for Contemporary Art, 955 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide