2-man McCarthy play finds drama in philosophical debate

Last Updated by Chip Chandler on

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

An atheist and an evangelical Christian walk into a room ... and talk. What sounds like the set-up for a hacky joke is instead the framework of a two-man drama to be staged beginning Friday by Merely Players.

The Sunset Limited by Cormac McCarthy (Blood MeridianThe Road) will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Jan. 20 and 21 in the Amarillo College Experimental Theatre.

In the drama, first staged in Chicago and New York in 2006, a black evangelical and ex-con (played by Brandon Graves) and a white professor and atheist (played by Bo James Kemp) debate the meaning of life, the existence (or not) of God and more in the former's sparse apartment.

They've come there after "Black" (the characters are nameless and are distinguished by their race in the script) saves "White" from jumping in front of a train in a suicide attempt.

"Yeah, it's dark. It's sad. But the writing is beautiful," director Stacy Clopton Yates said. "(McCarthy) asks interesting questions in this play, but he doesn't answer them. There are questions about God, about happiness, about responsibility — about, I think, how we move within the world we inhabit."

Kemp suggested the play for the acting troupe after first being exposed to it while attending Texas A&M University — Corpus Christi.

"There are so many great exchanges between the two characters. They're so opposite and so intelligent in their views that they just fight fire with fire," Kemp said.

Graves agreed.

"When we (first) read it, it kind of spoke to me," Graves said. "It speaks a lot about what people go through."

Yates said the play "is one big, long philosophical discussion, basically."

"You've got one guy that is absolutely determined that the world is not worth saving and he, as a part of the world, is not worth saving, and you've got this other guy who desperately wants to help him see the world another way," she said.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. 

Season tickets for Merely Players' three-show 2017 season are $22 for adults and $15 for seniors and students.

Call 806-358-6215 or 806-371-5359.



Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at Chip.Chandler@actx.edu, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and at www.facebook.com/chipchandlerwriter on Facebook.

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