This play travels anything but light, but for aficionados—as I am—of talented and doomed Joe Orton or for those fascinated by Brian Epstein (the man who made the Beatles), the proposition of their encounter in the summer of ’67 will pique interest. A policewoman, W.P.C. Foster (Kyra Baker) fills in the information that Joe Orton was murdered by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell, and that not long afterward Epstein was found dead. W.P.C. Foster will be a factor in Orton (Doug Greene) and Epstein’s (Bob Stineman) late-night meeting in a cemetery. Each of these characters has secrets, and the eventual interactions between the two men and two police constables will bear this out.
There’s good dialogue in Lindsay Harris Friel’s play, but the script—too static and too long by at least half an hour—is unbalanced. Its pattern is to build up interest then lose momentum, drowning under a deluge of verbiage. More quiet dramatic action, movement, and those strategic silences that speak volumes would be welcome. One character has an excuse for excess verbosity—a sort of Polonius figure, Constable MacDonald (Terence Gleeson does a fine job personalizing the character and delivering his lectures). Even so, the constable goes on too long after everyone gets it: He’s a talker. A beautiful little gem is buried late in the story: in an extraordinarily well-written moment, Orton reflects on the young women chasing the Beatles. By the end the two men, who met antagonistically, have come to an understanding and perhaps the beginning of a friendship. Note: Kevin Jordan’s set is the sturdiest and most realistic cemetery set I’ve ever seen in a theater, an admirable labor of talent and love—and for a short-run Fringe show! [Skybox @ the Adrienne] September 6-14, 2013. fringearts.ticketleap.com/traveling-light-by-lindsay-harris-friel.