Rated 3.0

Sometimes, good things come in small packages—like Richard Broadhurst’s new one-act drama about mistakes and second chances, Inside.With a cast of four, it’s not a big show. And at 35 minutes, it’s not long. Broadhurst’s script is lean and lithe, with few wasted words or motions. The story involves four young men who awaken in a sort of limbo, remembering their crimes but unable to recall their names.

At first, these guys talk tough and even get a little physical, trying to figure out how to get back to their normal lives. Gradually, they open up, and there are several funny lines rising from quicksilver situations. Soon, circumstances force them to reconsider past mistakes—and they also get the opportunity to relive their crimes, with the chance to try for a less-devastating outcome. Broadhurst developed Inside from his experience running a drama class for young offenders sentenced to the California Youth Authority—alas, Broadhurst’s program was among the first to get the ax in the state budget crisis.

If Inside sounds a little like Broadhurst’s popular play Benched (Sacramento Theatre Company, 2001) it should. This playwright likes to let his characters reshape and learn from the past.

Director Anthony DeFonte works with minimal resources—everyday clothing, no props, and two-tint lighting—but the physical action is deftly blocked and well-executed. The actors are good: Anthony D’Juan simmers with anger and periodically explodes, and Eddie Madrigal uses a few words of Spanish and a mysterious smile to considerable effect. Travis Mullins (STC’s Cinderella) and Zemario Sheppard (of California State University, Sacramento) are the bridge characters who point the way out of limbo.

The attractive, recently renovated Guild Theatre in Oak Park, whose red, brick walls surround 200 comfy seats, is the newest and nicest venue in town for a show of this kind. Let’s hope local theater groups will mount shows on this stage on a regular basis.