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The Drawer Boy  

When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 4 2010
Price: $15-$30

It's fitting that TheatreFirst's latest production takes, as its subject matter, a city-slicker playwright who travels to an agrarian community, intent on studying farmers in their natural habitat. Actors Warren David Keith (playing the farmer Angus) and Howard Swain (playing his friend Morgan) must have done a similar anthropological study to authenticate their roles. Keith and Swain star opposite Max Rosenak, who plays Miles, the unflappable liberal arts student who emerges from Rochdale College in Toronto with all sorts of delusions -- among them, the notion that he can try "the simple life" for one month and learn enough to write a play about it. Apparently that actually happened: Writer Michael Healey based The Drawer Boy on a 1972 play called The Farm Show, for which a group of Toronto actors invaded the rural outskirts of Clinton, Ontario. Healey larded his script with intricate dialogue, dramaturgical references, and stories-within-stories. It takes a trio of powerful actors to sift through all that language and bring out the drama underneath. Fortunately, the three in this Oakland production are formidable. Through July 4 at Marion E. Greene Black Box Theatre (531 19th St., Oakland). $15-$30. 510-436-5085 or TheatreFirst.com

— Rachel Swan

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