Monday, January 29, 2018

Review of Boy at TimeLine Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Boy. It was by Anna Ziegler and it was directed by Damon Kiely. It was about a boy named Adam (Theo Germaine), who was born a boy named Samuel, but when his parents (Mechelle Moe and Stef Tovar) went to have him circumcised, the doctor made a mistake and cut off more than he was supposed to. So then the parents decide to raise Adam as a girl named Samantha. They have Samantha meet with Dr. Wendell Barnes (David Parkes) to make sure Samantha is acting in a traditionally feminine way and adjusting to the new identity. After high school, Samantha becomes a "he" and changes his name to Adam. Adam goes to a party and meets this young woman, Jenny (Emily Marso), whom he immediately has a connection with. But he has some secrets that he is keeping from her that make the relationship more difficult. This play is about being who you really want to be, how helping isn't always truly helping, an how acceptance and love are connected. I thought that this play was really amazing. It was so moving and a beautiful love story. But it wasn't just about the romance; it was also about loving yourself.

Jenny and Adam's relationship was really sweet. Adam seems so invested in Jenny's child and they have this adorable witty banter. I loved how Adam was always trying to out-nerd her about everything. Like when they met for the first time and he was dressed like the monster from Frankenstein, she said "That is a great Frankenstein costume." And he says, "I'm not Frankenstein. I'm the monster. Frankenstein is the person who made the monster." She seemed to find it kind of weird but also adorable. He brings Jenny's child books from the library he works at and it is sweet to hear them talk about the books they read as kids. But Jenny feels like Adam is paying more attention to her child than to her, and she worries that maybe he isn't attracted to her at all. They are both worried that the other person isn't attracted to them: Jenny because Adam doesn't try to do anything physical with her and Adam because he is worried that Jenny will be freaked out by what he looks like after his surgery. They try to work through it together though; they don't just say "the other person is acting weird, so this relationship is over." I think they end up being a good example of people who love other people without focusing on the gender identity or insisting that people be like they used to be.

Adam has a complicated relationship with his parents. They both want him to be happy, but they also both had a plan for his life--for him to be Samantha---that he rejected, which might have hurt his parents. But they are dealing with it pretty well. There is a really heartwarming scene where Adam's dad comes over to have a beer. He says something to Adam that he really needed to hear, and I started bawling. It is so great he has a dad whose top priority is for his children to be happy. Adam's relationship with his mom is more difficult. She really likes his new girlfriend, but it is hard for her to accept who he is now because she still misses Samantha. That is really sad, but she needs to realize that this is what makes her son happy; not being Samantha is the way for him to be happy.

Dr. Barnes is actually doing something pretty revolutionary for the late 60s by saying that someone born a boy can become a girl. He's interested in this for medical reasons, like if someone lost their parts or was born with both parts and thought they had to choose. He is interested in helping people, if they have a condition, but he isn't interested in helping people for their happiness if they are born a different sex than their gender identity. It is disappointing because he is doing so much, but he could do so much more if he just opened his mind a little more. What he wants for Samantha is for her to become a feminine woman. He's not sexist because he respects Samantha as a woman and thinks she is capable of doing a lot of things. They start a book club together because at first Samantha doesn't like reading. It is a really sweet thing that he does for her. And they seem like they have a really beautiful connection. Except that when Samantha decides she wants to become Adam, he doesn't accept that. It is hard to decide how you feel about a character like Dr. Barnes because you want to like him and have him be a good person to the people that he loves. It is really hard to see him be disappointed but also to see him disappoint people.

People who would like this show are people who like respectful dads, book clubs, and Frankenstein's Monster costumes. I think people should definitely go see this show. It has a beautiful and moving story and amazing actors. I really loved it.

Photos: Lara Goetsch

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