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The Great Divide 

When: May 30-June 17 2012
Price: $20-$30

Playwright Adam Chanzit gave himself a rather formidable challenge in writing a play about hydraulic fracking, a subject that doesn't seem all that sexy on the surface. Yet Chanzit found grist for drama in his story about a small town in Garfield County, Colorado, that enjoys a sudden industrial boom when a natural gas company (simply named "The Company") chooses to drill there. Croneyism, greed, and a Gold Rush mentality proliferate along with the sudden influx of jobs, but no one questions the new form of fuel excavation -- that is, until a local doctor discovers that waste products from fracking have contaminated the water supply. Modeled after the protagonist in Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, Dr. Stockmann (Heather Robison) is an unwieldy moral compass for this fascinating and complex play. The plot is a bit too intricate, owing to Chanzit's fixation on representing everyone's point of view. But director Mina Morita staged it artfully, aided, in part, by Martin Flynn's stark, geometric set and some excellent character acting. Shotgun Players produced this challenging world premiere, which runs through June 17 at The Ashby Stage (1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley). $20-$30. 510-841-6500 or

— Rachel Swan


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