I Am Montana at Mortar Theatre Company | Theater review
Samuel D. Hunter’s road-trip play takes on so many themes that it can’t meaningfully address any of them.
On one level, New York playwright Hunter’s 2009 piece, here in its Midwest debut, is about a road trip: Three idiosyncratic employees of big-box retailer Valumart travel across the country to attend a convention. There’s humor in the interactions among Eben (Garza), a former Israeli soldier; Dirk (Nordmark), a meth addict; and Tommy (Harper), Eben’s childhood friend, who insists on documenting the uneventful journey. Both Tommy and Dirk are obsessed with Eben (though it’s hard to understand how Dirk morphs from vacant addict to passionate seducer), but neither can understand what happened to Eben in Israel.
The other level here is the memory play—for Eben, who can’t forget what happened to him in Israel or what he did in order to survive while trapped beneath a collapsed building in Hebron with a Palestinian. Under the rubble, he fell in love with the Palestinian man, and his awakening to his sexuality is another, mostly underexplored, level to this play.
The tensions of the various levels don’t quite meet; ultimately, the war story comes to overwhelm Hunter’s inquiry into the plight of minimum-wage workers in present-day superstore U.S.A.—specifically, Montana, where they’ve paved paradise to put up a whole bunch of parking lots.