By Aaron Carter
Directed by Chuck Smith
Produced by MPAACT African Centered Theatre
At the Greenhouse Theater
Riveting mystery of hope and delusion a smartly structured new work
Aaron Carter is a playwright with skill for story, structure and character development. His latest world premiere now running at the Greenhouse Theatre produced by MPAACT, First Words, tells the story odd a family’s struggle to deal with their autistic 15 year old son, Aiden (effectively played by Scott Baity Jr.
Barbara (Tina Marie Wright) is desperate to communicate with her autistic son who is mute. He only expresses himself with violent outbursts. In spite of her husband Paul’s (Andre Teamer) objections, Barbara secretly begins expansive and unproven therapy.
Diana (Lauren Malara) is a Phd student researching the use of facilitated communication techniques to find out what autistic children actually know. Diane is convinced that her method is scientifically sound and her work ‘helps’ Aiden communicate by gently guiding his hands as hits keys on a computer Keyboard. Diane trans Barbara to guide Aiden he demonstrates through Barbara and Diane his knowledge.
Paul is skeptical about facilitated communication as he’d rather pray over Aiden for a cure. Barbara is an atheist bent on helping her disabled child with science. Paul and Barbara’s marriage becomes strained as the power of hope can restrain reality. When Aiden supposedly makes accusations against his father, the marriage starts to fall apart as the scientific methods used come into question. Dose facilitated communication really work or is the facilitator subconsciously maneuvering the boys hands?
Aaron Carter, with tight direction by Chuck Smith, has mounted a nicely paced 95 minute drama with loads of mystery elements that quickly engage us and keep us wondering throughout. Young Scott Baity Jr is eerie as he deftly plays a non-communicative disabled boy. This is a clever and though provoking play that outlines the power of hope and delusion.
At the Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL, Call 773-49407336, www.mpaact.org, tickets $23, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 95 minutes without intermission.