by Martin Brady
Jim Reyland's play Stand has received a lot of attention due to its efforts to unite the greater Nashville area in the fight against homelessness. Of course, good intentions don't always translate into good art. Fortunately for local theatergoers, Reyland's fine script, drawn from personal experience, is up to his noble goal, further proving that timeworn shibboleth, "Write what you know."
Reyland has crafted a fair amount of serious works over the years, but this play clearly represents something closer to his heart. His terse and credible dialogue, poignant and speckled with surprising humor, tells the story of the homeless Johnny and businessman Mark, who become friends and together take a redemptive personal journey.
Barry Scott and Chip Arnold, veteran actors with high local standing, give virtuoso performances under the careful direction of David Compton. Scott's Johnny is simplehearted but sincere, and like many homeless people clearly suffers the ravages of longtime despair and addiction. Arnold's Mark is defeated in his own way, but he has resources to help his new friend, and his character's uncommon efforts as Good Samaritan are relayed with a good deal of heart.
In addition to raising money for a good cause, Reyland's play is a significant theatrical success as well.
Stand will be staged Thursday, Sept. 6, through Saturday at Lipscomb University's Shamblin Theatre. Performances continue through Nov. 10 at a variety of locations; check writersstage.com for a schedule.