On Saturday, my friend Mitch and I went to see our friend Sarah’s play, The Diviners. I had never heard of this play and knew absolutely nothing about it. I wasn’t sure what to expect or if I’d like it but it never hurts to expose yourself to something new…. and Sarah’s one of my closest friends. Even if I knew of the play and knew that I wouldn’t like it, I was going to go see it.
The Diviners by Jim Leonard Jr. takes place in a small town in Indiana during the early 1930’s. After nearly drowning in an accident that took his mother’s life as she tried to save him, Buddy suffered oxygen deprivation that left him mentally handicapped. It also left him with a fear of water that prevents him from bathing. When the play begins, a former pastor named C.C. comes to town and befriends the boy. He decides to help Buddy get over his fear. However, the town soon faces a terrible tragedy.
Apparently, the terrible tragedy is spoiled in the opening of the play, however I was still reading some of the cast bios (I love those things!) when it started and missed it. So I’m sure that during intermission while I was telling Mitch my theory on what was going to happen at the end of the play, everyone around me was thinking, “What is she talking about? We know what’s going to happen!” (Although, my prediction was right on.)
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d like this play or not, but I fell in love with it. It’s a simple story and while the ending is heartbreaking (but necessary, in the days since I saw the play I’ve tried to come up with a suitable alternate ending and have come to the realization that as much as I didn’t like it, it was the only ending for this play) it found its way into my (small) list of favorite plays. It’s one I’d like to read, now that I’ve seen it.
I loved Buddy and C.C. and I liked seeing how they helped each other in their own ways. Buddy captured my heart shortly after he first appeared on stage and I was invested in his character throughout the play. C.C.’s story caught my interest and I was invested in seeing what course his story would take in the play. The actors who played Buddy and C.C. in this production are both fantastic actors who worked well together and made the characters and their friendship believable.
Sarah portrayed Darlene, the niece of a woman who is probably the most religious woman in the town. She was fabulous on stage, of course, and I enjoyed her storyline and her dialogue. Her storyline brought out some very Footloose-esque moments. She also had a wonderful piece of dialogue in which she retold Bible stories, including the Adam and Eve story. Both of us are PK’s (pastor’s kids) and we loved this part of the play!
If you ever get a chance to see this play (or read it, if you can’t get to a performance) I highly recommend it. It made me laugh, it made me cry (well, tear up at least) and ever since I saw it, I’ve been walking around singing Buddy’s version of “You Are My Sunshine” as well as thinking about what happened to the characters after the tragedy at the end of the play.