The Guys

Rated 4.0 John Pellman, the new executive director of Beyond the Proscenium Productions, bucks the mistletoe trend with this serious show about a New York City firefighter who needs to draft too many eulogies after losing most of his crew on September 11, 2001. Uncertain what to say, the firefighter turns to a writer—someone he never would have met, ordinarily.

This establishes the two polar characters between which Anne Nelson’s script navigates. The firefighter (Pellman in a flannel shirt) is male, analytical and accustomed to thinking about leadership and team building. The writer (Sherilene Marie Chycoski) is female, an intuitive listener and accustomed to working alone, using words.

Pellman has done his homework as an actor, neatly capturing the blend of tenderness and toughness, bravery and realism, that firefighters often embody. Chycoski plays the viewpoint character. She confides in the audience and even embellishes the tale a bit before ’fessing up.

Director Nicholas Victor Avdienko handles this delicate 80-minute duet with care (and without intermission). At first, it’s like walking on eggs, as these grieving strangers come to grips with their common task. Gradually, their working bond grows stronger, though it would be inaccurate to say they become warm friends. The Guys is a mood piece that works. This well-staged production also sets a high standard for Beyond the Proscenium Productions under Pellman’s leadership.