Adam Hahn's "Dear Abe," which runs through Sunday at Studio Roanoke, is the very definition of what the little independent theater represents to a city that has lost its professional theater, but it is a good bit more than that, too.
This is smart, creative, risky, edgy theater that Mill Mountain Theatre, the lost-for-now staple for many years, would would have been unlikely to produce. It's written by a student (Hahn is working on his MFA at Hollins) who grew up in improv ("No Shame Theatre" at its roots) and it mixes serious drama with eyebrow-raising comedy in a story that plays at the edges of the absurd until it ties into a tight knot real human drama.
Basically, this is a piece centered on two brothers, whose cynical, closet-Jew, wealthy, advice columnist dad (Abe) has died and left them his property, split with just enough of an unfair division to create intense and permanent friction. The story is moved along with the reading of letters to "Dear Abe" and the sons' answers. (My wife Christina and I are among the off-stage, recorded readers and neither of us had a clue how what we were reading fit.)
The play is superbly directed by Joe Banno and the acting--Hahn as one brother, Caitlin Ann Morgan as his wife and Drew Dowdy as the other brother--is solid.
Studio Roanoke, with a succession of first-rank new and finely-crafted plays, continues to give our little city a voice in this artform.