Buckshot, a new play by Courtney Meaker, is an exercise in prelude—it ends precisely where a news story, based on police reports and interviews with rattled neighbors, might begin. It is also an exercise in ambiguity, picking apart how years of memories and influences can lead a person to do something that, from a distance, might seem insane.
Alana (Katie Driscoll) is a young Seattle woman with backcountry roots. She likes whiskey, trades playful insults over the phone with her brother in Tennessee, and hasn't gotten around to telling her girlfriend, Mel (Megan Ahiers), that she's a member of the NRA. Alana is a type—tough and impulsive, but also troubled and trying to hide it.
Alana and Mel are planning to move in together, but Alana seems more agitated than excited. She grumbles about quitting her job and, for reasons that aren't initially clear, tries to hide an impending visit from her beloved brother Saul (Daniel Wood). She gets even squirmier when Saul calls to tell her their long-lost uncle Hal (a grinning and creepy Gianni Truzzi) has come back home and has Alzheimer's. "And you don't think that changes anything?" Alana asks cryptically. "Do you want to back out?" Saul counters. "No," she says.
The rest of Buckshot is a slowly widening crack in the door of Alana's consciousness, allowing us to see bit by bit who Uncle Hal is, why his return and his Alzheimer's matter, and what she and her brother have committed to that she might "back out" of. The script flips between Alana's troubling and malleable childhood memories and her increasingly rocky day-to-day relationships with the people around her.
Directed by Peggy Gannon, the seven new actors in Buckshot give eager, sincere performances that seem, at times, like they're still trying to get the feel of what it's like to live in their characters' skins. Driscoll and Wood as the tough-but-troubled siblings have the best chemistry onstage. (Even when they're being affectionate, Driscoll and Ahiers as the lovers seem even more emotionally distant than the script calls for.) But Meaker's play is a world premiere with a promising premise that, with a little tinkering, could become something even better.