THE STY OF THE BLIND PIG, Onyx Theatre Ensemble, at the Edgewater Theatre Center. The story is the stuff of mythology: a parent and adult child are locked into a stifling relationship. Then a stranger comes, stirs things up, and brings a bit of hope to a hopeless situation.
In Phillip Hayes Dean's three-act play, a blind street musician comes into the lives of a bitter old woman and her desperately lonely daughter. And it's a measure of Dean's gift as a playwright that, like August Wilson, and like Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill before him, he's able to evoke the story's mythic side while taking a naturalistic approach. Jordan--named after the river that runs chilly and cold--can be read both as a pitiable blind man and as a spiritual being who's come to earth to help or hinder the protagonists. To Alberta, Jordan seems a savior, while to Alberta's aging mother Weedy he's the devil incarnate.
Unfortunately--like Williams, O'Neill, and Wilson--Dean sometimes allows the mythic side of his drama to slow down the storytelling, especially in the third act. Just when we're beginning to see how the conflict will be resolved, Dean tosses in a long magical-realist monologue in which Alberta rhapsodizes about an unrequited love, a student pilot who crashed and was carried off by purple angels. Happily, the acting is strong enough in Onyx Theatre's production to overcome the self-indulgent portions of the script--and Ron O.J. Parson's flat, too reverential direction. In particular Freeman Coffey balances well the divinity and down-at-heels humanity of his character.