Directed by Scot T. Kokandy & Jeff Casey
Produced by Towle Theater &
At Theater Wit, Chicago
Spotty acting diminishes the power of Aguirre-Sacasa’s script
Playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s play is a smartly constructed mystery and a story about a world of cultural privilege and the arrogance of wealth. Brandon Hardy (the terrific Eric Cassady) is the brilliant, popular jock who is one of the elite seniors at St. Joe’s Prep school where the upper class boys prepare for the Ivy League and a life as part of the ruling class. Brandon’s future is threatened by a videotape found on the campus.
Elizabeth Hardy (Suzanne Nyhan) is called in by Coach Russell Shea (John Tebbens) in an attempt to cover up a potential scandal. St Joe’s has a cultural of quietly protecting both the school’s and the boy’s reputations. Privilege both breeds scandals and covers them up. Aguirre-Sacasa’s work unfolds as a mystery in which we see how the dynamic of a troubled boy with sociopath tendencies, who has a three year gay relationship with Justin (the truthful Curtis Jackson), must struggle with the dilemma of how he feels about Justin and the privileged life laid out for him by his family. The influence of his father steers Brandon into trouble. Brandon feels that he can do whatever he wants since he feels he has an entitlement to immunity from responsibility.
Without giving away more of the plot, let me say that Good Boys and True is an indictment of privilege and wealth to give young men a warped sense of life that easily allows a teen to use a working class girl as an object of pleasure. The play covers the gray areas of how and why the societal structure both fosters and enables elitist behavior that doesn’t require owning or taking personal responsibility for one’s actions.
Smartly, playwright Aguire-Sacasa doesn’t answer every question of who-did-what but he does hone in on the coldness of Brandon Hardy. Eric Cassady deftly plays Brandon as a true sociopath devoid of feeling. Curtis Jackson’s truthful Justin and Madison McLean’s unique take as Cheryl highlights the play.
The production suffers from the stilted, emotionally bland performance from Suzanne Nyhan as Elizabeth Hardy. I never understood when she was defending or condemning Brandon. The uneven pacing diluted the impact of the work.
The young actors saved the work with their nuanced and honest performances. This is a show worth seeing.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: June 22, 2011
At Theater Wit, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL, call 773-975-8150, www.theaterwit.org, tickets $22, Wednesday thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through July 9, 2011