Two boards and a passion

The Diviners

By Jim Leonard Jr.
Directed by Margaret E. Cabrera
The Trinity Players
Trinity Lutheran Church, Astoria
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Andrès J. Wrath

Only a few stops into Queens, at the Broadway stop on the N train, is a new theatre company called the Trinity Players, located in the basement of Trinity Lutheran Church. A visit there might have astonished the jaded New York theatregoer - the stage was not exactly a black box or an auditorium, it was a ...well, a church-basement stage with surprisingly excellent acoustics and housing a very fine theatrical production. And, although the audience looked much like any other theatregoers, on closer inspection they exuded an infectious and refreshing energy, as though they really wanted to be there and were actually having a good time.

The Diviners was originally produced at Circle Repertory in the early '80s. It is the story of a small farming community in Southern Indiana. When C.C. Showers (C.J. Wilson) enters the town he is down on his luck and spiritually bankrupt, but when he meets the troubled Buddy Laymen (Wayne A. Simpkins) he begins working the miracles of the heart. Although the play is a little too derivative of The Rainmaker -with a tragic ending that is unearned-it is well-crafted and absolutely charming.

Director Margaret E. Cabrera did an excellent job staging the play and worked especially well with the two leads. Mr. Simpkins was commanding as Buddy. He was at home with both the internal behavior and the externals of this simple, sweet child. Mr. Wilson showed himself to be an intelligent actor and to have a strong stage presence. He made a terrific C.C. Showers. Together the two actors had much stage chemistry and made the play come alive.

The sets, also by Margaret E. Cabrera, were simple and effective. The lighting, by Bill Bradford, was quite adequate, although it was obvious he had little to work with. The uncredited costumes were effective as well.

Community theatre is a theatre of and for the community. The Trinity Players could certainly be construed as community theatre. Perhaps old-fashioned in its intent, the production was excellently done regardless. This raises the question: how does one make a community out of the inhabitants inside Manhattan? Do we have a community? And if we do, do we have a theatre for the people? Although this production ofThe Diviners never intentionally asked these questions, it did prove good theatre can be had wherever there is a stage and people willing to work magic on it.

The excellent cast included Kevin W. Hauver, Joel Ginn, Mackenzie Westmoreland, Bonny Scheltema, Mistelle Comeau, Michael Gilpin, Rebekah Oakes, Dina Kay, and Brandy Mettert.
Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 2
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 1999 Andrès J. Wrath