Subtle, closely observed, full of compassion, We Three is a wonderful little play animated by some superb acting, including the best performance I have seen at this year’s Fringe. Without histrionics or contrivance, it makes us face one of the things we’d prefer not to talk about: schizophrenia, and the effect it has on the victim’s family. Reminiscent of Waverly Gallery, Didactic’s fine production about dementia which ran last November, We Three is a relentlessly honest piece of work which achieves its small ambitions beautifully.
Amory (Mitchell Conway) is a young man whose disorder is just on the cusp of detaching him from reality. This is not Randall McMurphy, or any Langian/Keysian victim/superman. He cannot live at home with his parents any more. His presence is too disruptive. He lies. He steals. He lives in the streets, or temporarily, with his old girlfriend (Julie Congress), whose memory of the distant happiness they shared is sufficient to allow her to tolerate the weirdness and the threat for a while.
His principal caretaker is his younger brother Tommy (Ryan Emmons), a high school senior and a good man who is nonetheless not the equal, in maturity or resources, to this horrific disease. There was a time when Amory was a good man too, bookish and inspirational, and Tommy remembers that time and it sustains him.
Not a great deal happens in We Three. Powerful psychotropic drugs help to control Amory’s behavior, but they leave him a burned-out zombie.
Tommy is getting ready to go to college, a necessary stage in this bright man’s life but fantastically disruptive in Amory’s. Tommy must decide – as no one else seems to be able to – whether to institutionalize Amory or leave his fate to chance. As in life, there are no good choices.
In such a play, much must rely on the minute observations of the script and the actors. The actors, like the script, are superb here, and Conway in particular is brilliant. In every step, and every facial expression, he shows the fear of a man whose world has turned on him, as though his immune system was eating his own heart. Emmons, whose style reminds me of a younger Jay Hardee, and Congress are also spot-on, as is Samantha Hooper-Hamersley as Amory’s mother.
It is this role, however, which presents the play’s only difficulty. Hooper-Hamersley seems younger than Amory, so that every time she appears we are uncertain if she is Amory’s real-time mother, or the mother he remembers from his childhood, or a doctor (she wears a white lab coat) who he is confusing with his mother. A scene in which she shreds her coat to make strips for Amory’s infected hand lost me completely, and in the context of this otherwise straightforward play seemed incongruous and irrelevant.
But that is not so important. We Three is the perfect play for the doomed, intimate spaces of the Warehouse Next Door: full of wonder and sadness, just like life.
- Running Time: 60 minutes
- Tickets: We Three
- Remaining Shows: Sat, July 26 at 1 . Sat, July 26 at 10:30 . Sun, July 27 at 2:30
- Where: Warehouse, 1021 7th Street NW