by Hedy Weiss
When: Through March 31
Where: Pine Box Theater at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln
Info: (773) 404-7336; www.greenhousetheater.org
Run time: 85 minutes with no intermission
In the opening moments of "25 Saints," Joshua Rollins' dreadful, altogether belief-defying play, two guys carry an already bloodied fellow into a tattered Appalachian shack and proceed to bludgeon him to what they believe is his death -- first with their firsts, and then, for good measure, with a hammer. This deed accomplished, they stuff him into a wooden trunk (an heirloom, we are later told), and, just to make sure he has breathed his last, they hold down the lid for a good long time.
So, you really have to ask: Where can you go from there? And I will tell you: Not very far. The next 80 minutes of this world premiere production by Pine Box Theatre, directed by Susan E. Bowen, only gets worse. Much worse.
The perpetrators of the snuffing -- Charlie (Drew Johnson), a college grad, and Tuck (Josh Odor), a veteran with a damaged arm -- happen to be operating a meth lab in their living room. Before leaving this town behind they're trying to get free and clear of a big debt left by Charlie's no-good brother, Trevor, who also left his girlfriend, Sammy (Caroline Neff), in the lurch. Charlie just happens to be crazy in love with Sammy, a relationship that will do him no good.
As for that body in the trunk, it belongs to the town's deputy sheriff (John Ross Wilson, who gets off easy given that he can drop out of the play at this point). Running the meth ring is the real sheriff (Danny Goldring), a master of corruption and cruelty in this down-and-out, stripmined, town of dead dreams.
The sheriff's "henchwoman" is the salty Ms. Duffy (Molly Reynolds). A scrawny young meth addict, Sasha (Ashley Neal, who makes the most of one great bit that catalogues the downward spiral of life in this West Virginia town), is the local pizza delivery girl.
Suffice it to say, there is more. But your life will not be better for reading about it.