Outcast Productions’ show delivers on a miracle
— Created May 11, 2022 by Melanie Hammons
By Melanie Hammons
All the winning ingredients are right there. The seven cast members hail from one end of Whidbey Island to the other. As seasoned character actors, they bring many years of experience to the stage, ranging from the Minnesota Renaissance Festival to productions in Seattle, Portland, and points beyond.
Add in a touch of “magical realism,” and what you get is “A Small Miracle for Feeney,” opening at 7:30 p.m. Friday and running through May 28 at the Black Box Theater in Langley.
“Magical realism is a broad term,” said OutCast Productions co-director Ned Farley. “But part of magical realism’s attraction is the meaningful concept that’s woven throughout the work that encourages people to think and talk about it.
“This is a brand-new play from a New York playwright,” Farley continued. “It explores the human relationship side of the ways that people facing great sorrow somehow find a way to live their lives and not give up.”
Farley believes everyone can identify, sooner or later, with the struggles of the show’s main character, Feeney Nicks. He describes Nicks as a retired university professor in Baltimore who’s recently lost both his wife and son to cancer, this coming on top of other painful losses. He comes to terms with his son’s death by searching for Jason’s look-alike, or doppelganger, whom he’d met once before at Pike Place Market in Seattle.
“He asks God ‘to give him a chance to see the face of his son once more,’” Farley said.
Loss, and the different ways people deal with it, was what drew Charles Dawson, who portrays Feeney Nicks, to the production. Dawson, a theater arts major in college, has played many different roles in his lifetime, beginning with high school plays. He describes some of them as “good-sized roles. But never one like this.”
“When I first read this script, it really stoked me,” said Dawson. “There’s lots of heartbreak in this story, something I and others can readily identify with.” Dawson went on to relate that sometimes it seems to happen that “you’ve just turned the corner on one loss, only to have something else hit you.”
He described Feeney as “a really good guy, someone who wants to keep going in spite of the grief.”
Oak Harbor resident Nate Edmiston plays the role of Feeney’s second older brother, Harland. Edmiston draws a connection between the loss Feeney’s seen, and what Harland fears could be “the loss of his brother, who appears to be descending into a world of delusion.”
“All these people surrounding Feeney in Baltimore become concerned when Feeney’s convinced that his deceased son is talking to him, telling him, in so many words, to ‘Go to Seattle. There’s happiness for you there.’ Feeney’s loved ones, especially me, are worried about his reaction to grief. They believe that he’s becoming lost to a depressive madness.”
Edmiston says he views the drama as “a wonderful journey with meaning about loss, and regaining what’s been lost.”
Although the subject matter of the play may appear somber overall, as the play’s director, Farley said the play manages to strike the right balance.
“There are traces of that throughout the story,” he said. “Feeney’s family and friends ‘humor him’ in an attempt to deal with their perception that he’s losing his mind. There are also elements of surprise in the way that the Baltimore characters aren’t aware of the Seattle ones. And likewise, the Seattle characters don’t know about the ones in Baltimore.”
Farley said the play, in its final inception, has had a long journey itself to make its way to the Black Box Theater stage in Langley. He and the crew have worked on what he called much revision of the script. And that is still on-going.
“This was first intended to be a stage reading back in 2020. That has now resulted, two years later, in a full-run play,” Farley said. “Without giving away the play’s ending, I would say that the magical part of it is found in the way that it (Feeney’s quest) sort of comes true. There are definitely touches on the expectation of a life after death.
“There’s sort of the anticipation of an almost but not yet resolution, of the ways to find joy, connection, and meaning in spite of loss,” he continued. “At the end of the day, my hope is that people will be touched by this story.”
OutCast Productions celebrates its 10th anniversary season this year. The theater company focuses on works that are thought-provoking and meant to encourage critical thinking about issues and events. Show dates for the play “A Small Miracle for Feeney” are May 13, 15, 20-22 and 26-28. Performance times are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 4 p.m. Sundays. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to outcastproductions.net.