REVIEW – “Good Boys and True” at Steppenwolf

Brandon Hardy shares a vulnerable moment with his mother ElizabethThe world-premier of Good Boys and True, now playing at Steppenwolf Theatre, starts out benign enough – the athletically handsome and privileged Brandon Hardy (earnestly played by the talented Stephen Grush) is giving a tour of his school, the elitist St. Joe’s Prep in Washington, D.C.  He points out the postcard-perfect school campus, and revels in the regurgitation of the school’s historical traditions, academic status and scholastic prowess.  We soon find out, however, that there is nothing benign about Brandon Hardy’s world.  Indeed, a tense and ominous malignancy slowly emerges, one that involves deep emotional wounds kept covered for over 20 years – wounds involving sexual abuse and manipulation.  And as this occurs, Brandon’s introspective mother Elizabeth (Martha Lavey – who is also Steppenwolf’s artistic director.) sees her family, and hence her world, crumble around her.  Good Boys and True, in the end, relays in a powerful way the tragic abuse of power by those drunk with hubris. Strengths: Top-notch acting, most notably in a poignant scene involving a meeting between the mother and the maligned lower-class high-school girl, Cheryl Moody (Kelly O’Sullivan).   Special mention also must be made to Tim Rock playing Brandon’s best friend and clandestine boyfriend.  Director Pam MacKinnon has done an excellent job bringing out many character nuances, especially as much of the dialogue is terse. 

Reservations: It’s understandable what playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is attempting – working the play around the relationship between Mother and son.  But this leaves a gaping emotional fissure in that the main protagonist is never seen on stage.  It is the father who is the most powerful and antagonistic of all of the characters; the root cause of the Hardy family’s choking dysfunction.  Yet Mr. Hardy is never seen.  And in keeping the father off-stage, Auirre-Sacase deprives us – and the play – of potentially implosive scenes and character development.

Summary: Even with its shortfalls, Good Boys and True remains a haunting and jarring piece of theatre.  Director MacKinnon has paced the ensemble well, as secret after tragic secret is uncovered.  Recommended.

Rating: ««« 

Related articles:

  • TimeOut Chicago – “Generation Next
  • YouTube interview with director Pam MacKinnon
  • Personnel and Show Times

    Playwright: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
    Director: Pam MacKinnon
    Sets: Todd Rosenthal
    Lights: Ann G. Wrightson
    Costumes: Nan Cibula-Jenkins
    Sound Design: Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen
    Dramaturg: Edward Sobel
    Asst. Director: Jonathan Templeton
    Featuring: Martha Lavey   (Elizabeth Hardy)
    Stephen Louis Grush   (Brandon Hardy)
    Tim Rock   (Justin Simmons)
    John Procaccino   (Coach Shea)
    Kelli Simpkins (Maddy)
    Kelly O’Sullivan  (Cheryl Moody)
    Nick Horst, Mark Minton, Trevor Reusch   (Ensemble)
    Dates: Through February 16, 2008
    Show Times: Tuesday through Sunday, 7:30pmSaturday and Sunday matinees at 2pmAdditional matinees on January 23, 30, February 6 (Wednesdays)

3 Responses

  1. […] chosen Steppenwolf Theatre’s world-premier “Good Boys and True” (see my review here).   As the League describes the play: A sex tape scandal. Secret lovers. A privileged childhood […]

  2. […] In Irish playwright Conor McPherson’s one-act “Dublin Carol“, produced by Steppenwolf Theatre, we come to grips with just these questions through the actions of John, an alcoholic Irish father (the Golden-Globe and Emmy-nominated William Peterson), living and working in a funeral home, and Mary, his estranged and stoic daughter (Nicole Wiesner), who visits her father just days before Christmas, bringing with her disturbing news that offers John a chance to escape the burdens of his past.  Rounding out this amazing ensemble is Mark, a cholerous part-time employee at the funeral home  (played by Stephen Louis Grush – who also was the lead in Steppenwolf’s recent hit Good Boys And True.  See my review here). […]

  3. test test test great myspace good test test

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: