Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Hard Bargain Players The Diviners

By • Jun 25th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
The Diviners
Hard Bargain Players
Hard Bargain Amphitheater, Accokeek, MD
Through June 26
2:00 with one 15-minute intermission
$10/$8 Students, Seniors, AFF members
Reviewed June 17th, 2010

The Hard Bargain Players’ production of The Diviners dragged through the performance which felt tedious at times.

The Diviners is the story of a small town inhabited by a young douser with a high sensitivity to water, whether in the air or in the ground. When a preacher having a crisis of faith comes to town, he sets the whole community abuzz. We see the friendship develop between these two men through to the show’s bittersweet conclusion.

First-time director Sean Michael Fraser cannot be faulted for his creative team — his cast performed double-creative-duty and he performed fully half of the crew duties himself. However, this lack of diversity seems to have spread everyone a little thin. The show had a tendency to drag. Passive blocking had characters sitting for large blocks of dialogue. On the other hand, I really liked Fraser’s use of lighting and sound at the end of the show for the final river scene. It was evocative without being over the top.

The set — designed with April Weimer — had dimension, but lacked texture and color; from thrust to backdrop it was painted with the same flat brown. Tapestries and larger, more colorful set pieces would have helped to break up the monotony. The natural woodsy setting was used well, but the rest of the scenes were left a little too much to the imagination of the viewer.

Costumes, by Joanne Fuesel, left something to be desired. Almost none of the costumes were period appropriate. While I recognize that it can be extremely difficult to orchestrate costumes in a small community theater, when so much of a production is minimalist, special care should be taken to ensure that anything that can be spared should go to wardrobe.

Frasier did a quality job casting his actors. His leads — Matt Jones (Buddy Layman, the sixteen-year-old douser), Sarah Ann Carlson (Jennie Mae Layman, Buddy’s older sister), Will Hardy (C.C. Showers, the ex-preacher), and Randy Sena (Basil Bennett) — were strong and successfully carried the show.

Let’s talk about the venue for a moment. The Hard Bargain Players perform in a lovely amphitheater at Hard Bargain Farm in Accokeek, MD. Although the mosquitoes aren’t bad, you should try to remember to bring bug repellent to this outdoor theater. The company has a lovely setup with beer, wine, cookies, and soda available for donations, so have some cash on hand. The theater has some special parking accommodations for wheelchair users, so call ahead if you need to take advantage of that.


  • Buddy Layman: Matt Jones
  • Jennie Mae Layman: Sarah Ann Carlson
  • Ferris Layman: Robbie Jones
  • C.C. Shower: Will Hardy
  • Norma Henshaw: Juliette Kelsey Chagnon
  • Darlene Henshaw: Jade Bartlett
  • Goldie Short: Heather James
  • Basil Benett: Randy Sena
  • Luella Bennett: Joanne Fuesel
  • Melvin Wilder: Patrick Ogden
  • Dewey Maples: Dillon Kercher


  • Director & Stage Manager: Sean Michael Fraser
  • Set Design: Sean Michael Fraser, April Weimer
  • Set Construction: Randy Sena
  • Set Crew: Christian Brindle, Sean Michael Fraser, Brandi Peterson Wooldridge
  • Set Painting Design: Sarah Ann Carlson
  • Set Painting Crew: Heather Bartlett, Sean Michael Fraser, Heather James
  • Sound Design: Draper Carter, Sean Michael Fraser
  • Costume Design: Joanne Fuesel
  • Costume Crew: Melody Sciarratta, Sean Michael Fraser, & Cast
  • Hair & Make-up Design: Sean Michael Fraser
  • Publicity/Graphic Design: Liz Gilpin
  • House Management: Jhonni Jones

Disclaimer: Hard Bargain Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is a student of Speech and Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She has been involved in the performing arts since the age of five when she debuted as the Little Red Hen on an elementary school stage. Her career includes both national and international ensemble performances with semi-professional choirs, various roles in community and college musicals (both onstage and off), as well as co-directing drama camp for Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.

One Response »

  1. Although I did not see this production, word from those I know who did see it were very impressed with Director Fraser and the entire cast. I have done several shows at Hard Bargain and can tell you this, when any director takes on a production there, they in essence become not only the director, but producer and all around do everything person. It’s the way this are done at Hard Bargain. I think maybe reviewers should keep this in mind. They have very little to work with unlight other theaters in the area who have full production staff, an almost unlimited supply of costumers and set people. My hat is off to Mr. Fraser for taking on the challenge of doing a production at Hard Bargain. With very little to work with and having to take on multiple responsibilities, such as it is, Mr. Fraser did an amazing job. Thanks Sean for all of your hard work at Hard Bargain. And congradulations on a very fine production.