Friday, November 07, 2014

Chosen Child: Boston Playwrights’ Theatre

Chosen Child
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
at Boston University
949 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA
Now Playing through November 22
A Play by Monica Bauer
Directed by Megan Schy Gleeson

Review by Zvi A. Sesling

A schizophrenic wants to find his sister; his sister does not wish to be found. But is his sister actually his sister or someone else. And who is the woman doing her wash? Do we believe the woman talking to her is who she says she is? And what does Omaha, Nebraska have to do with all this? Questions, questions.

It all unfolds over approximately 90 minutes revealing a favorite subject of so many playwrights – dysfunctional families. However, there are some twists in this family, some of which are suspected, others come as a surprise; the unexpected is always lurking. And seeing Chosen Child will reveal the secrets embedded throughout.

In a discussion with the audience following the play, Ms. Bauer stated that parts of the play are autobiographically-based. This adds to the intensity and the interest in the characters. Ms. Bauer also said that while autobiographical the plot was heavily fictionalized with some things based on real happenings and others created to fit the play. However, one wonders how much was fictionalized, perhaps the dialogue is, and we are left to wonder if the characters are based on the real and where and where do the author’s life events begin and end.

The play is set in the New York City Port Authority Bus Terminal where David is trying to get to Omaha where he believes his sister lives. As the play progresses her location could be Omaha or somewhere in New York City. The play skips back and forth in time and moves to different places.

Playing David is Lewis D. Wheeler who speaks about people who may be imagined. Is his sister flesh and blood? Is the Rabbi he quotes real? Did his mother just die? More questions.

Lewis does an excellent job portraying David’s range of emotions. With shaking hands during heightened anxiety, he does a twirling dance common to schizophrenics and has a rising voice as he attempts to explain his situation and get what he wants, Lewis has created a memorable character who stays with the audience long after the play ends.

Margaret Ann Brady is a sorrowful, restrained Lee in her first Boston Playwright’s Theatre performance. Debra Wise (Donna) presents Donna, a psychologist, a person who has difficulty with her own emotions and needs to uncover her past and deal with the present. Claudia as Lee Mikeska Gardner portrays her as a young girl, young woman and finally as a dying mother is eclectic and unsympathetic as it should be played. Melissa Jesser as Anne, the Port Authority ticket seller displays the patience of a much older person trying to help David deal with his dilemma.

Overall there is a genuine value of seeing this play, an original by a Boston Playwright. It delivers an important message, sometimes difficult to watch, painful in so many ways. However there is a need for writing about adoption, a topic sometimes left unexplored on the stage, but one that is vital to society. That, plus the plot and the excellent acting make this a stage production worth seeing.

Zvi A. Sesling
Reviewer, Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene
Author, King of the Jungle and Author, Across Stones of Bad Dreams
Editor, Muddy River Poetry Review
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 7
Editor, Bagel Bards Anthology 8
Publisher, Muddy River Books

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