March 13 2013 12:00 AM

“The Diviners” plunges the audience into the fictitious town of Zion, Ind., a buckle on the Bible Belt in the depths of the Great Depression, where fundamentalist Christianity still holds sway in the minds and hearts of the people. 

Buddy Layman (Joe Quick), despite his phobia of water (the result of a near drowning as a child that killed his mother), is imbued with the ability to locate water hidden deep in the Earth. Quick adeptly embodies the erratic energies of the emotionally and intellectually stunted Buddy.  

Director Jane Falion assembles a supporting ensemble cast that surround and protect Buddy and provide much of the fabric of the play, which gives attention to each of its characters. “Diviners” opens with farmer Basil Bennett, played to gothic American perfection by Bill Henson, intoning a dramatic elegy to Buddy, with Dewey (Danny Bethea) arriving to finish the speech. Lighting designer Tim Fox frames this scene with dual spotlights that add an electric power to the moment.

Joe Baumann, as disillusioned preacher C.C. Showers, and Mycah Artis, as Buddy’s sister, Jennie Mae, drift through an awkward dance of discomforting attraction. Artis is all small town debutante, while Baumann sweats and squirms authentically. Nicely played.

“The Diviners”
Riverwalk Theatre
Through Oct.14
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
$12 adults/$10 seniors, students or military228 Museum Drive, Lansing
(517) 482-5700