In “Dig,” it becomes time for science class when the curmudgeonly but sweet owner of the plant store at its center goes into a paragraphs-long description of photosynthesis. He is not talking about plants, really — nor is he talking about the process by which carbon dioxide and water give life to a plant and, as a by-product, produce oxygen. He’s talking about people and how, occasionally, we muck up our life support system with bad behavior.
You may turn green before the new two-act, two-hour play by Theresa Rebeck finally makes its last analogy, this one about abused plants and abusive people. It’s something about being “potted” or “repotted.” Her “Dig” opened Wednesday at 59E59 Theaters and is presented by Primary Stages.
Jeffrey Bean plays Roger, the aforementioned owner of a plant store named Dig, which is set somewhere in Ohio so that another character, a pothead named Everett (Greg Keller), can say something about putting the “high” in Ohio.
Bean performs with sitcom efficiency, while Keller walks away with nearly every scene he occupies even though Everett is ultimately only a boy toy plot device to give the deeply troubled heroine, Megan (Andrea Syglowski), her penultimate scene of bad girl behavior. Everett, despite being fired from his job at the plant store rather early on in “Dig,” keeps showing up to enliven the proceedings with his loopiness.
His many appearances are only somewhat less puzzling than Megan’s ability to be a different character in almost every scene she appears. This Sybil-like behavior could be explained by the fact that Megan takes responsibility for the gruesome death of her young son. One moment, Megan is a severe depressive who lashes out at an unsuspecting customer (Mary Bacon). Another moment, she is a Disney princess who makes Roger’s garden burst alive with flowers. Literally. The magically realistic set is by Christopher Swader and Justin Swader.
Sygloski brings to vivid life many of the faces of Megan, but runs into trouble when a mystery character (David Mason) shows up late in the second act to upset her photosynthesis.
Before the philodendrons are completely bent out of shape, “Dig” presents more scenes of apology than any AA meeting should allow. That’s where plants have it all over people: They don’t talk.
Rebeck directs her own play.