Brett Neveu doesn’t do issue plays, though you might say he’s intrigued by issues: disaffected teenagers and their violent urges (“Eric LaRue”); the emotional fallout of 9/11 (“Empty”); drug addiction and single parenthood (“the go”); sibling rivalry run amok (“The Earl,” currently in an open-ended run at A Red Orchid). What’s most interesting about Neveu’s work, though, are the conversations—the everyday speak that is neither theatrical nor pithy, but somehow very, very intriguing all the same. And so, “Heritage” (receiving its debut at the American Theater Company), which has all the fixings of an issue play, Neveu-style. In present-day Louisiana, a trio of prisoners—two white, one black—spend their days sweating and rehabbing an old plantation house, while their corrections officers—one white, one black—oversee their efforts. But even a good premise—and this one is a doozy—needs to evolve past the obvious dilemmas. Neveu negates his strongest attribute as a writer in the character of Randy Myer, the sole black prisoner who is mute throughout much of the play. For a guy who writes conversation like nobody’s business, it’s odd that we rarely hear from the one character whose rage and outrage are both on-the-mark and entirely misplaced. Director Edward Sobel and his cast find moments of resonance, but ultimately this production is neither here nor there, but lost in a limbo of ideas and potential. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.