WOLF PLAY/DETROIT RED
Theater is non-stop in this town and two world premieres are now onstage in Boston!
This world premiere produced by Company One and written by Hansol Jung
took me completely by surprise because it was about something I had
never heard of: the online “adoption dissolution” of previously adopted
children, bypassing regulated legal adoption proceedings. All that’s
required is a notarized letter involving power of attorney and a child
can be “un-adopted” by adoptive parents who no longer want the child,
and then “re-homed” with another adoptive family.
I was at first horrified, and ultimately very moved. The play plunges
us into the plight of 8 year-old Peter in “Wolf Play” who, like a lone
wolf, has been abandoned by his pack– twice, and again must figure out
how to survive in a new pack. “Peter,” whose real name is Jeenu and is
from South Korea, is played by a life-sized puppet(!) and is operated by
an expressive young actor Minh-Anh Day; the two are instantly one. Far
from distracting, the puppet facilitated an immediate empathic
connection. In bypassing the limitations of a real child actor given the
disturbing demands of the role, the puppet enabled me to make a
creative leap and project myself more fully into Jeenu’s experience,
putting me in his shoes– and there were many......
Read full review on Joyce's Choices
onstage at the Emerson Paramount Center is a powerful, atmospheric,
slice of a play about Malcolm X’s transformational time in Boston,
specifically Roxbury, in which he arrived as a raw 16 year-old named
Malcolm Little and emerged a big, fierce, history-making force for black
empowerment, Malcolm X. The play begins on video in black and white
when “Detroit Red” (so dubbed for his reddish hair) enters a pawn shop
with a watch. What lead him to that moment in time and what he decides
in the moments that follow are what defined Malcom’s history and the
transfiguring events of this play.
Live action takes over as we see a young man from Michigan foaming
with hostility, burned by the casual insults to his personhood. He makes
his way through menial jobs, selling sandwiches on a train, morphing to
a life of petty crime, drugging, drinking and eventually burglarizing
the homes of rich white men who would objectify him in ways obscene and
dehumanizing. We see his rage taken out on the women in his life and the
trajectory his seething anger has shaped.
The play written by Will Power (!) and directed by Lee Sunday Evans
counts on our familiarity with the details of Detroit Red’s odyssey and
its connection to the whole of his life. I wish the play had provided
more distinct connective tissue. I had to lean in and listen hard to
absorb its elliptical, poetic language and action which took the form of
movable tableaux behind a scrim, deep in shadow as if to suggest a man
not yet fully realized and haunted by the ghost of his revered minister
father who may have been murdered by white supremacists.
Eric Berryman delivers an elegant, intensely heightened performance
in the title role, and compelled me to watch. I wanted to know more when
I left, about Detroit Red’s time here in the cauldron of his becoming
on the streets and behind the bars of this city.
See the wholly original world premiere of DETROIT RED at the Emerson Paramount Center through February 16.
Read the complete review on Joyce's Choices