BWW Review: A SINGULAR THEY Brilliantly Commands Your Riveted Uneasiness
A SINGULAR THEY/by Aliza Goldstein/directed by Christopher J. Raymond/The Blank Theatre's 2nd Stage/thru May 1, 2016
The Blank Theatre's world premiere of Aliza Goldstein's A SINGULAR THEY successfully pulls off a mesmerizing mash-up of uncomfortable situations teenagers have to deal with. Christopher J. Raymond smoothly directs this engrossing seventy-five minute one-act eliciting fully-formed performances from his talented cast of three. Goldstein's dialogue for the two teenage characters actually sound like two seventeen-year-olds arguing, bantering, encouraging, gossiping. Lily Nicksay and Hannah Prichard both totally embody their respective roles of senior classmates/BFFs Burbank and Dierdre.
Dierdre has been knocked up. So her mother arranges the soon-to-be-born's adoption to a well-to-do, health-enthused young couple. Burbank, besides dealing with losing her virginity, also wrestles with the not-as-common gender identity. A second round of surgeries could and would make Burbank a complete female (biologically). Nicksay and Prichard easily convey the tight, sometimes mature (sometimes not), sometimes rational (oft times not) relationship Burbank and Dierdre have. Each have their individual moments to shine -- Nicksay in her deeply-felt "Who am I?" monologues and Prichard in her vivid, viv.id description of giving birth.
Their science teacher Mr. Mazer seems to be the only person who seemingly accepts Burbank as the person Burbank is. As close as Dierdre is to Burbank, and in spite of how hard Dierdre tries; Dierdre still lets loose moments of her non-acceptance of Burbank, formerly "Christine." Nick Ballard effectively portrays Mr. Mazer as a curious, conflicting mix of concern, aloofness, and authority-savvy -- all directed to the young, questioning, gender-perplexed Burbank. Ballard's Mr. Mazer can relate to Burbank's sexual identity isolation and tries to offer an ear and advice on how to deal with her gender transitions. Mr. Mazer agrees to refer to Burbank as "They" (not 'she' or 'he') when talking to others. But, what line or lines will be crossed here between teacher and student? Will it go there??? No spoiler alert here!
Interesting that in A SINGULAR THEY, what originally seemed to be the main focus (gender identity) quickly takes a backseat to Dierdre's pregnancy or the 'relationship' between Mr. Mazur and Burbank. Then right back again. All very smoothly written and performed.
Kudos to both Aaron Lyons for his fairly elaborate, multi-locale set, dressed with much detail by props designer Michael O'Hara; especially outstanding for a small equity-waiver house. Rebecca Kessin's background sounds and music certainly heighten the urgency of the more edgy scenes.