The Woolgatherer

Rated 3.0 The main draw for this production is some strong work by community actors Stephen Vargo and Maria Rogers. Vargo has appeared—memorably—in many local shows over the years. He’s never the same twice, and any time you see his name on the playbill, you know that something interesting is in store. This time around, he’s playing a rough, rambling truck driver named Cliff—the sort of guy who can go through several cans of beer in a hurry, talk a blue streak (but also describe a view of the ocean in beautifully poetic terms) and drive all night, with the assistance of a few pills. It’s quite a contrast to the Shakespeare-spouting, liquor-soaked English professor with an unwholesome weakness for underage girls that Vargo played so well last year in William Inge’s Bus Stop.

Opposite Vargo is Maria Rogers, playing Rose, a young woman who is almost a recluse, working at an obscure, menial job; living in her tiny studio with a few dead houseplants; and focusing her life on details in the way that a shy person with a limited world view often does. Rogers does well with this sort of character—she recently played Masha, the young woman always dressed in black, “in mourning for my life,” in Chekhov’s The Seagull.

These two aren’t a likely pair—Cliff’s basically looking for a one-night stand. And the doubts that are interwoven in the dialogue are literally embodied in the very dim lighting on the Thistle Dew stage—there are lots of shadows falling across the actors’ faces. Director Chandra Ashton handles the initial tension and gradual negotiation between Cliff and Rose successfully.—