THE DIVINERS tells a fairly low-key story right up until the end. As such, the powerful and tragic climax sneaks up on the audience. It’s the story of Buddy Layman, a mentally challenged 14-year-old, who in the process of grieving his mother has become terrified of water. It’s also the story of C.C. Showers, a drifter and former preacher, who’s questioning his place in the world. And it’s the story of their unusual friendship, the way the town and family reacts to it. It’s a story of searching for oneself and meaning in life.
But the end left me with a feeling of sadness. And also curiosity as to why the playwright chose that direction. Director Stephen Skiles, as usual, maximizes the potential of his students. He gives opportunities and while he has high standards, he also gives his cast and crew the nurturing they need to be successful. It’s obvious not only by watching the work on stage but also from the conversations that happen outside the theatre as I wait for the doors to open. There’s a wonderful culture of learning going on at Xavier University.
The tech, overseen by Technical Director Joe Leonard, supported the story well. Skiles pacing and directorial hand was visible but not overpowering. And the performances by several of the more experienced actors on stage were good. Micah Price’s “Buddy” is believable, charming, and endearing. Price, while young, is a stage veteran and it shows. Aaron Robinson shows potential as “C. C.” especially in the more tender scenes he has with Price; I expect he will mature with more stagetime. Also notable are Katie Mitchell (“Norma”), Cassie Delicath (“Goldie”), Henry Eden (“Dewey”), Michael Thompson (“Melvin”), and the always solid Alex Roberts (“Jenny Mae”).
THE DIVINERS is yet another diverse offering by Xavier’s burgeoning theatre program; I’m excited to see their continued growth in the years to come.
THE DIVINERS runs through November 19th at Xavier University. Click here for tickets.