OCEAN CITY — The Brown Box Theatre Project has never been afraid to rely on local audience support for new and sometimes challenging topics and they continue to push the dramatic envelope with their newest production “A Feeble Mind” opening at the Captain’s Table restaurant next weekend.
On the surface, the play is about a 1950’s-era eugenics proponent, Paul Grant as he struggles to come to grips with the challenges his domestic life poses to his idealism.
Although the play is a work of fiction, the character is based on real-life eugenics proponent Paul Pompano who wrote extensively in popular magazines about how “undesirable” traits, including race and poverty, could be removed from the human population by selective breeding and sterilization.
But the deeper question the play explores is how a person — and in this case a family — can be affected when pure, true and absolute belief in a thing is confronted with facts that completely explode their notions.
Playing Paul was a double challenge for Berlin resident and Artistic Director of the Brown Box Theatre Project Kyler Taustin.
“Paul is fighting for what he believes in,” he said. “It’s just so terrible, horrible mis-informed.”
Getting his head around someone who was, rather than just a polemicist, a true believer in a pseudo-science just as the evidence against it began to really pour down around him — the eugenics movement was beginning its death-throes in the 1950s — is the kind of challenge an actor wants.
On the other side of things, Taustin was in the hands of first time director Rebecca Bradshaw. He’d directed Bradshaw when she was a freshman and he a senior at Emerson. In the intervening years Taustin has been a hands-on artistic director and director but it has been some time since his only responsibility for a production was to act in it.
“It’s actually refreshing,” he said. “This is her vision and I’m just a part of it.”
Although Bradshaw has never directed a full production, in the three weeks since the show opened in Boston, it has been well received each night. Bringing it to Ocean City is what was actually the challenge.
The Brown Box Theatre Project has staged two dramatic performances at the Globe — A Belly Full of Stones” and “Two Rooms”but because of the scope of the play they sought a larger venue, which brought them into Ocean City.
“This gives us the opportunity to expand our run,” Taustin said. “And I get to come home too, so that’s nice.”
Taustin said that the company, which also put on “Twelfth Night” on the beach and in Worcester County Schools las summer, expects to return with “Romeo and Juliet” for the 2012 summer season.
“A Feeble Mind” opens 6 p.m. Thursday, April 26 at the Captain’s Table with shows 6 pm. Friday, and Saturday as well. For tickets visit www.brownpapertickets.com.