Well-rendered characters cope with life's changes in Available Light production

That conflict is an integral part of dramatic storytelling is a given, but how that conflict is rendered is often what makes stories unique.

In Melissa James Gibson's “This,” much of the conflict is the result of the characters' deliberate attempts to avoid it. As the characters' lives change, they fall back into established patterns and behaviors.

“The play is driven by the characters and the relationships between the characters, as they cling to their way of being, even though that way has to change,” said Acacia Duncan, who directs “This” for Available Light Theatre (which closes this weekend).

That's the crux of “This,” as recently widowed Jane and her longtime friends, Marrell and Tom, attempt to not deal with their loss. Smart and educated, the trio uses language – Gibson's script is wonderfully rendered – to cope, even when “language falls short,” Duncan said. “There are things we can't seem to find language for.”

“This” is not without its moments of levity, the humor and sadness presented side-by-side. “It feels like life,” Duncan said.

A significant plot turn forces some new perspectives, but “This” is definitely driven by its characters, and by the freedom Gibson provides for its actors to inhabit them.