A Night Near the Sun, Real Rain Productions, at TinFish Theatre. In great legends the hero slays the villain and claims the princess. But it doesn't work that way in real life. Murderers, even those with the best intentions, are no longer honored and rewarded.
Don Zolidis's A Night Near the Sun, being given its world premiere, both relies on and subverts those legends. The hero is a lonely boy raised in isolation by a mother who believes him to be the spawn of space aliens. Its villain is a pathetic old man who engages in chat-room confabulation and petty drug mongering. And the princess is a teenage waif seeking refuge from her dysfunctional parents in the arms of a young romantic who writes poetry but doesn't recognize T.S. Eliot's lines when he hears them. This is no Camelot, just an economically depressed farm community near the Illinois-Wisconsin border.
Zolidis's intensely personal play makes an eloquent case for disenfranchised citizens desperately searching for fulfillment in fantasy, self-abasement, and violence. As directed by Rick Fonte, the cast--led by Craig C. Thompson as the frustrated Galahad wannabe and Larry Orr as the most charming sleazebag I've seen this season--deliver uniformly intelligent, articulate, tightly focused performances, giving enigmatic speeches a subtext and nimbly sidestepping the ocasional unresolved dramatic question. John Vallone's sound design elicits the right kind of frisson, further assuring the noteworthiness of this Real Rain debut production. --Mary Shen Barnidge