J. Scott Bronson, Covey Center
Kathryn Laycock Little and Elwon J. Bakly in the Covey Center for the Arts production of "Stones."

"STONES," through April 26, Covey Center for the Arts, Provo (852-7007), running time: 2 hours (one intermission)

PROVO — "Stones" is an apt name for the two original one-act plays written by J. Scott Bronson.

Not only do the stories take place at the top of a rocky mountain and inside a tomb carved out of rock, the stories are tough to watch and hard to bear.

Yet they are important stories, stories based on scriptures about sacrifice, love and faith.

They're powerful.

It's not easy to watch Abraham tell Isaac he's the sacrificial lamb in a story titled "Altars." It's painful to watch Isaac deal with what he and his father believe God is asking.

It's equally heart-wrenching to watch Mary deal with Jesus' future and his impending sacrifice for mankind in "Tombs."

It's not easy to watch but riveting.

Bronson did well writing these plays. The doctrine is basically sound. The dialogue is believable, and the characters come alive with insight and human frustrations.

Bronson plays Abraham in "Altars" and Joseph in "Tombs," while Elwon J. Bakly plays Isaac and then Jesus. Kathryn Laycock Little is Isaac's mother and then Mary.

Each does an excellent job as they move from rage to tears to bitterness to acceptance without being simplistic or maudlin.

Little is especially fine at playing a loving, kind mother who can't bear that her son will bring out his enemies by preaching for men to love one another.

Bakly has a huge job in playing Isaac and then Jesus because he's onstage the entire time. But he does well, making the subtle shifts in personality and bearing that make him believable, especially as Jesus, confident in his assignment as the son of God.

These two plays are intense.

They are also done almost entirely without props or a real set, only cinder blocks, rushes and timbers.

The result is a very intimate setting, one that's almost harsh but one that works for these two stories.

The transition in lighting is the only signal for "time travel" moments, and the actors move about in the dark.

These plays deserve just a little more in the way of a stage and a curtain. Nevertheless, they are worth seeing.

E-mail: haddoc@desnews.com