The U.S. Postal Service owes more than 9 billion dollars. It plans to shutter many locations and suspend Saturday delivery. It may close entirely. But you wouldn’t know it from the paean delivered to the institution in David Jenkins’s Post Office, running at the New Ohio Theatre. “We visit every single house regardless of class, creed, or color,” Denny (Eric Hoffmann), an aging mail carrier intones. “We do this almost every day of the week, resting only on Sunday like a benevolent God.”
Denny sees his route as a semi-divine vocation, but for James (David Gelles), an aimless 19-year-old, it’s just a temporary gig. As they work sorting letters, the two men make a distinctly odd couple. Denny is rotund, rubicund, and excitable; James appears reedy, pale, and droopy. Denny sees James as a protégé, but also as his competition. James has little interest in the upstart role. He is, however, interested in Victoria (Anney Giobbe), a lonely woman who lives along his daily beat.
Post Office is a theatrical bildungsroman, a play about a young man’s education. Not that James seems to learns very much—a few vocabulary words, a dance step, some professional pride. Jenkins’s script takes on familiar tropes—intergenerational conflict, masculine anxieties—and doesn’t much complicate them. While the writing is clear, it’s also schematic, sketching in characters or plot rather than rendering them more fully. The show has the feel of a one-act that outpaced itself. Still, Jenkins is a capable playwright, and he delivers on the story arc that the early scenes promise. But when the full package does arrive, it feels uncomfortably light.