Last night, we went to the Forum Theatre to see Carlos Murillo’s Dark Play, or Stories for Boys. Let me approach it on three levels: (1) I don’t like the story line at all, (2) Putting aside my distate for the story line, the play is extremely well written, and (3) I thought that the production, and especially the acting, was absolutely first rate. The audience, on the other hand, was quite small – much too small for a Saturday night. I am not sure why, except that there is so much competition in town.
The basic story is about two teenagers, one 14 and one 16. They don’t know each other, although they live in the same city. The older boy is looking for love in an internet chat room, a beautiful green eyed girl, about 5’4″. The younger boy is looking for love, too, but the love is he looking for is more like that of a 16 year old boy. To seduce the boy, he invents a sister, creates an ID for her, and enters into a cyberspace relationship. Things deteriorate from there.
The surrounding story is that, as this tale is being told, the 14 year old is now about 18 and in college, and at least outwardly heterosexual with a girl friend. Should he tell her?
And what is a “dark play”? A dark play sets forth a situation where only some of the players know the rules, and know they are playing a game. Murillo created the perfect dark play, loosely based on a real situation that occurred several years ago in England.
All of the actors were terrific, and you have to pay special attention to James Flanagan, who played Nick, the 14 year old and college student, and master manipulator.
Dark Play followed an equally strong performance at the Capital Fringe Festival. This one, called Children of Medea, is a one woman tour-de-force, written and performed by Sue Jin Song, a Tisch graduate of Korean-American background. Any one person showing lasting 75 minutes is bound to be impressive. Any show written and directed by that one person is bound to be impressive. But this play surpasses all expectations.
Song tells the story of a 13 year old girl, with Korean born parents and a 6 year old sister, whose mother abandons the household. The father, well educated it appears, an intellectual, has a do-nut shop to take care of his family; he is a silent man, tyrannical, hesitant to show positive emotion. The story goes through five years, until Cynthia, the 13 year old, is ready to go to college. She has been accepted early at Harvard; she is extremely bright, responsible and hard working. But she is also pregnant, from the chancest of chance encounters. This is the story of Cynthia, her younger sister, and her father. It is also the story of Medea, vengeful woman, abandoned by Jason for whom she has sacrificed everything. The script moves back and forth.
It is an intricate script, with each word clearly thought through. Nothing is out of place. And Song’s performance is mesmerizing – her varying forms of diction, her running the gamut of emotions, her energy.
My guess is that this is not the last time that Children of Medea will be seen.
We also saw two dance programs yesterday, one based on Poe’s “Annabel Lee”, and one a demonstration of classical Indian dance. They were both fine, although I would not suggest that you have to run to see them.
Dark Play and Children of Medea, though, should go on your must-see list. Even if you don’t have one.