Something 'Bout the Boy
BOY by Anna Ziegler, a play inspired by real events, is a story of a male infant who was maimed during a medical circumcision procedure. His parents, on the advice of a well known psychologist, are encouraged to raise their son as their daughter, being assured that nurture will win out over nature. The repercussions of this decision unfold over two decades revealing the devastating effects of everyone involved ultimately giving way to acceptance, forgiveness and love.
Of course it is more intricate and so much more layered than what I can explain in just one paragraph. BOY is the most beautiful, thoughtful and engaging glimpse into the human experience that I have seen.
Director Jim Aina brings the Hawai’i premiere of BOY to The Actors Group at Dole Cannery playing now through October 22.
Aina has assembled a cast of some of the best actors of the Honolulu theatre community. Dann Seki plays Doug Turner, father of Samantha/Adam Turner. Seki is subtle as a blue collar breadwinner trying to do what’s best for his family. He navigates his character through an unsure world. While trusting the word of a noted psychologist with the mental and emotional health of his “daughter”, he tries to keep the peace at home with his wife and other son, Steven, Samantha’s twin.
Melinda Purdy as Trudy turns in a beautiful performance. Trudy balances home making and doing what’s best for Samantha to the utmost of her abilities. The relationship between Trudy and Doug is strained, but as they slowly put the needs of their family first, and then each other, they realize the support they have for each other is still strong. I’d never seen Ms. Purdy’s work prior to this production but after seeing this performance, she is on my list of favorite actors to watch.
Jaime Bradner plays Jen, the love interest of Adam/Samantha. Bradner is another familiar face, seen mostly on stage in productions at Kumu Kahua Theatre and Hawaii Shakespeare Festival. Her portrayal of a young, single mother who becomes involved in a relationship with Adam/Samantha is natural, thoughtful and delivered with purpose. Jen is a working, protective mother to a small toddler who, against all her natural instincts, falls in love. We see her run the emotional gamut of silliness and seduction to confused frustration and finally understanding and acceptance. Bradner gives Jen grit: her scenes with Randall Galius are real and believable.
Jason Kanda plays Dr. Wendell Barnes. Although he may be seen as the antagonist, Kanda’s Dr. Barnes is a psychologist who truly believes in his work. We see the relationship between Wendell and Samantha grow closer via the office visits and appointments through the years. There is nothing inappropriate, in fact it seems as if Samantha may see Wendell as a surrogate parent, the only one who understands her.
Randall Galius is riveting in the role of Samantha/Adam Turner. He deftly switches from a young adult Adam full of angst and romance in one scene to an eight year old Samantha in the next - with all the mannerisms of playfulness and curiosity. The scenes flash back and forth in time demanding Galius to work two characters simultaneously showing a tremendous range - he is effortless and consistent.
Although Galius does have the role of the main character, the beauty of this ensemble is that every actor works together, lifting each other up, telling the story, listening and reacting to each other. You feel as if there is no real “lead” because the ensemble is so in tune with each other, so generous and trusting of each other. The audience will feel a part of the play, perhaps voyeurs, watching a slice of someone else’s life unwrap and unfold right before their eyes.
In the past I have been critical of TAGs small playing space, especially when trying to convey different locales effectively. However, set designer Justin Fragiao succeeds brilliantly. Each scene blends seamlessly, yet are separate and distinct. Then there is the sheer brilliance of the door! Thomas Tochiki’s light design complements the scenic changes: distinct enough to separate location, yet subtle in movement and transitions. Costumes by Chris Valles succeed and hit the mark once again. BOY by Anna Ziegler plays at TAG through October 22. Call 808-722-6941 for tickets and information or go to www.taghawaii.net. This is definitely a play you do not want to miss.