Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thoughtful, Beautiful Acting Gives New Life to Fugard's "Master Harold and the Boys" in Fremont

G. Valmont Thomas and James Lindsay in
West of Lenin's production of
Master Harold and the Boys
(Photo: John Ulman)

If you're in Seattle during the month of April, be sure to check out Master Harold and the Boys at West of Lenin in the city's Fremont district.   

The 1982 Tony Award-winning "Best Play" was written by acclaimed South African playwright Athol Fugard, and is considered to be his most personal one. Much of the plot mirrors his own life growing up in apartheid-ridden 1950s South Africa.   It is a story of a boy learning to be a man amidst his own family's trials and secrets, and incorporates the themes of injustice, racism, friendship, and reconciliation.  The importance of overcoming the "principle of perpetual disappointment" that life seems to bring people rings true.
As a child growing up during the decades when Fugard was rising to fame in the United States, I was familiar with his name. I had read enough to know the thematic content of  his work, but, beyond that, I had never read or seen any of his plays.  That's something I now regret.   
It is seldom one has the chance to see a work that gives the feeling of being filled up full, but that is what this production of Master Harold and the Boys did for me.  It never ceases to amaze me how life always brings us just the right experiences we need exactly when we need them.   
At first, the former theatre reviewer in me wanted to write a full critique of the show.  Then, I decided it was better to tell people to go see the play and experience it without much background and foreknowledge of what was to come.  There is something to be said for scrapping preconceived notions and going in with an open mind and heart.   
Keith Warren and G. Valmont Thomas
as "Willie" and "Sam" in
Master Harold and the Boys at
Fremont's West of Lenin.
(Photo: John Ulman)
What I must say, however, is that Director M. Burke Walker has assembled a stellar cast led by G. Valmont Thomas as "Sam," Kevin Warren as "Willie," and South African-born actor James Lindsay as 17 year-old "Hally."    Many actors have brilliant moments in a play--fleeting clarity of motivations and actions.  For the entire 90-minute, intermission-free production, I never once doubted the capacity of the actors to keep me engaged and hanging on every word, as if they were saying them for the first time.   
Hopefully, audience members will leave the theatre wanting to change like I did--to see others in a better light; To defend freedom, but most of all, forgive others for their imperfections and "work-in-progressness."  The one thing we all share is a hope that we and the ones we love are capable of changing.   
Master Harold and the Boys runs through April 21 at West of Lenin.  For more information visit
Watch a video interview with South African actor James Lindsay HERE:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great piece - I must go see this show before the 21st!!