Nova D Arts Collective, in conjunction with GoKash Productions, …and Company Theatre and Danse4Nia Repertory Ensemble, brought the award-winning THE BOY WHO SEES to the First Philadelphia Charter School prior to its opening at the Old Vic Theatre Company in London. THE BOY WHO SEES had a workshop run during the 2011 Philadelphia Urban Theatre Festival, where it was honored with the “Best Play”, “Best Director” and “Best Actor” awards.
THE BOY WHO SEES is a look into the life of Claire, the single mother of a 14 year old blind son. She is devoted to her son, doing all she can to provide for his needs, but dreams of the life she might have had before she became a mother. David, a long-time friend who longs to be more, helps her financially as well as with her son’s care. James, her high-school love returns after a very long absence and invites her to join him in his journeys.
Several members of the workshop cast have returned for this production. Erica Brown returns as Claire, and she has a very good grasp on this character. Brett Gray, who won the Best Actor award, sparkles as James, even as he has endured a bit of a growth spurt since last we saw him in this role. Finally Hasan Malik returns as David, the former lover who left Claire for a life on the sea. They are joined by Kash Goins as Frank, the man who supports Claire and wants to be more, but has a family of his own that he cannot leavee. Andre Brown is Dr. Douglas, James’ Braille instructor who may (or may not) have other thoughts about James. Finally, Jamey Leeanne Long-Rislin is The Sun, who appears in dance segments throughout the play giving us insight into the thoughts of James.
I saw this play during the Philadelphia Urban Theatre Festival, and was interested to see the growth of the play. With the infusion of new actors, there was a very different interpretation of some of the characters. The character of Frank was much more imposing, and as such the interaction between Frank and David was more threatening. In addition, there was a much more layered relationship between Frank and Claire. Dr. Douglas in this production was less arrogant, but seemed a bit sleazier. This led to a very different interaction with the Doctor and Claire and Frank as well.
The limitations of the venue created some problems with the technical aspects of the production. Stage lighting was switched on/off as opposed to fading in and out, and the sound was very muddy. However, the story is the star of this production, and the lighting does not overly detract.
THE BOY WHO SEES is a look into a very real situation, with no easy answers. What is Claire’s decision? You have until April 29 to find out.
THE BOY WHO SEES
Written by Davon Williams
Directed by Jesimiel R. Jenkins
Choreographer – A. C. Gilmore
April 11-29, 2012, various times
Nova D Arts Collective
On the campus of First Philadelphia Charter School
4300 Tacony Street
Philadelphia, PA 19124