PostHeaderIcon A Boy’s Pursuit of Love & Identity

The bulletin board outside a Hyde Park church featured this challenging quote by renowned author, Elie Wiesel: “Is Silence the Answer? It Never Was.” That truth took me back to the play I had seen a few nights earlier, Timeline Theatre’s Chicago premiere of “Boy” by talented playwright, Anna Ziegler.

Anna Ziegler, Playwright

Anna Ziegler, Playwright

I sat through the opening-night performance transfixed by the compelling dramatization of a highly-relevant issue for our times as well as the superb acting of the Timeline ensemble, notably Theo Germaine who plays the lead character, Adam Turner.

The play tells a true and disturbing tale of gender identity, something Americans have become sensitized to in recent years with the case of Bruce (now Caitlin) Jenner and the politically tawdry bathroom choice squabble.

Last January, National Geographic declared America to be in the midst of a “gender revolution”. I recently read that The New York Times had used the term, “transgender”, a total of 1,169 times in 2017 or an average of 100 times each month. In 2016, Oregon became the first state to legally recognize a third gender option of intersexuality. Personally, in the past 18 months, I have been getting acquainted with several acronyms related to different gender roles: Cis, Trans and Non-Binary. At the play’s opening, I added Genderqueer and TGNC, for trans-gender non-conforming identity, to my vocabulary along with the pronoun they/them to refer to an intersex person.

Jenny (Emily Marso) Adam (Theo Germaine)

Jenny (Emily Marso) Adam (Theo Germaine)

“Boy” transfers this biological phenomenon to the stage. Adam Turner’s early life was marked by tragedy. Due to a botched circumcision, he suffered a mutilation. A well-meaning doctor convinced the parents to raise him as a girl and their identical twin as a boy. When the play opens, Adam begins to develop an attraction to Jenny, as finely portrayed by Emily Marso.  As the relationship develops, Adam is increasingly torn between his feelings of desire and his fear of revealing the secret of his gender. The play revolves around Adam’s anguish over his secret and which way to turn.

It’s a testament to the actors’ craft and Damon Kiely‘s sure-handed direction that we audience members share in Adam’s agonizing dilemma and Jenny’s frustration and incomprehension. “Boy” also features a revealing soundscape crafted by Karli Blalock that, if you listen closely, comments very appropriately on Adam’s psychological turmoil. Some of the song snippets played before and during the performance include “Void in My Heart”, “I Want to Know What Love Is”, “Playing with Girls” and “In My Room”. I left the theater feeling uplifted by Adam’s brave struggle and having learned more about this once-hidden topic, now coming out of the shadows.

Don’t be scared away by the subject matter from going to Timeline. You won’t be hectored or lectured. Instead, what’s on view is a gripping portrayal by an accomplished playwright who dramatizes the wrenching humanity behind today’s sensational headlines and the ignorant rants of hateful yahoos.

“Boy” runs through March 18th at Timeline, 615 West Wellington Ave. For tickets and information, visit www.timelinetheatre.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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