Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No Child... ****

This solo piece, written and performed by Nilaja Sun, was first seen here five years ago. After touring and winning many awards, it is now back at the Barrow Street Theatre for a limited run. Based on her experiences as a teaching artist in the New York City Schools, it describes a program that brings an idealistic actress to one of the worst classes in one of the worst high schools in the Bronx to lead a six-week workshop which will culminate in a class performance of "Our Country's Good," Timberlake Wertenbaker's play about Australian convicts putting on a play. The students are quick to notice the similarities between their treatment in school and the convicts' prison experiences. There may be only one actor onstage, but she convincingly creates over 15 different characters, including the school janitor, the acting teacher, the students, their parents, the principal and a security guard. Sun changes roles in a split second without the aid of makeup or costume changes. It's quite a tour de force. In turn hilarious and heartbreaking, the 70-minute play provides a vivid picture of life in a troubled urban school. Its hopeful message about the redeeming power of art seemed more wishful thinking than reality though. Hal Brooks directed. Sun got a well-deserved standing ovation.
Note: Avoid seats in Row B -- there is no riser between the first two rows.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We saw this the first time around in New York and I agree that the performance was excellent and the optimism forced. She convincingly captures the personalities and voices of the students and presents their problems realistically. I don't think that one brief encounter with a dynamic and charismatic teacher will change their lives, however.