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BWW Review: MR. PARENT at Lyric Stage Company Of Boston

MR. PARENT examines the roles of teachers in students' lives

BWW Review: MR. PARENT at Lyric Stage Company Of Boston On a cold Boston Sunday afternoon, a mostly white audience takes their seats in the Lyric Stage Company's theatre. The set before them is a classroom with an orange and white tiled floor and a large orange frame at the back of the stage. The show begins and Mauriece Emmanuel Parent, a Black actor and former teacher, enters. He introduces himself and starts the show with some "class participation." He asks the audience "raise your hand if you've ever had a teacher." Of course, everyone raises their hands. He then asks "raise your hand if you've ever had a male teacher." Less of the audience raises their hands. Finally he asks "raise your hand if you've ever had a Black male teacher." Four or five people raise their hands. Over the next ninety minutes, Parent recounts his experiences as a teacher trying to make it as an actor in Boston.

The script, written by Melinda Lopez, has a great balance of comedy and seriousness. We learn about Parnet's struggles as a teacher. He initially started his time as a teacher by trying to be the cool and fun teacher. He tells us that he originally had his students sit in a circle, no desks, just chairs and learning. This leads to a lack of certain boundaries with his students which eventually leads to him having to become more strict.

The overall performance was very simplistic and relied on the audience to use their imaginations and own experiences to immerse themselves in Parent's stories. Four chairs were used as the central set piece, Parent would move them around to help set the scene. The lighting, designed by Karen Perlow, was also simple. It gave the feeling we were in a classroom, aside from a few moments where Parent would recite excerpts from other works and the lighting would focus in on him.

Parent gave an overall solid performance. There were some moments where it was difficult to tell if he was flubbing a line on purpose or just accidentally. There were also a few-too many moments where I felt a story was left hanging.

MR. PARENT is running at the Lyric Stage Company of Boston until February 6th. Tickets can be found at The show is directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakin with a costume design by Yao Chen, and sound designed and composed by Arshan Gailus. Elizabeth Yvette Ramirez serves as production stage manager with Sarah Bord serving as assistant stage manager.

Photo by Mark S. Howard

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