Here follows my latest review for the critical website Stage Raw — which contains current arts and theater coverage from our intrepid team of journalists & critics.
We recommend this fine play.
A Singular They.
An astonishingly edgy, timely and sensitive drama by Aliza Goldstein, A Singular They is making its world premiere at the Blank Theatre — and what a singular play it is.
Not only does it capture the zeitgeist of the moment with its delicate examination of two highly topical issues — gender fluidity and teenage sexuality — but it offers an intensely personal and unique perspective on the former that is both instructive and deeply affecting.
The play features three characters: Lily Nicksay plays the pivotal Burbank, a seventeen-year-old high schooler, Burbank’s best friend Dierdre (Hannah Prichard) and a sympathetic teacher Mr. Mazer (Nick Ballard). Most of the scenes are two-handers, with Burbank interacting with either Dierdre or Mr. Mazer (no scenes without Burbank), and all of these two-person scenes interspersed with monologues from Burbank that describe their (meaning Burbank’s) interior world.
Burbank is undergoing gender reassignment. It’s an arduous, invasive and complicated process, and Burbank is overwhelmed by a barrage of conflicting emotions, confusion and misgivings. When gentle advice comes from a sympathetic teacher Mr. Mazer, the teen begins to foray across boundaries that are best left uncrossed.
Goldstein deftly draws an interesting parallel between one of many anxieties that Burbank is grappling with — like never being able to bear a child — and the plight of best friend Dierdre who, at seventeen, is carrying an unwanted child.
To her credit, the playwright devises an outcome that is hopeful and not tragic. Flashes of humor relieve the dramatic tension to good effect.
Director Christopher J. Raymond is to be commended for eliciting such fine performances from the ensemble of three. Nicksay and Nick Ballard are breathtakingly good, and each convey all the nuances and complexities of gender confusion; Hannah Prichard’s performance is only marginally (though perceptively) less effective, most likely because the character as written is not as fully-rounded as the other two. The character of Dierdre is of the familiar ‘frenemy’ variety — a BFF who is quick with the snarky put-downs and derisive ploys that reveal her own insecurities and personal anguish. She’s a typically bitter and sarcastic teen, and somewhat unlovable, which makes Burbank’s tolerance of her all the more poignant.
The versatile and inventive scenic design by Aaron Lyons achieves a small miracle within The Blank’s intimate 2nd Stage black box theater, utilizing a two-level set to create five distinct locales: a school room, a shopping mall food court, the back stairs of a pub, a bedroom and even a hospital room. Lighting design by Donny Jackson lends warmth and intimacy, and also assists in distinguishing between the diverse settings of the play.
A marvelous achievement on all fronts, A Singular They is, in short, a simply brilliant play with a production to match. Be advised: There are only three performances remaining, so try to see this one while you still can.
You can read the rest of this review here on Stage Raw website.
A Singular They by Aliza Goldstein.
The Blank Theatre’s 2nd Stage
6500 Santa Monica Blvd.,
***CLOSING MAY 1st***
This Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.
or via phone at (323) 661-9827