Category Archive for: ‘Go See’

MASTER HAROLD. . . and the boys magnificently erupts at Aurora Theatre.

l-r, The day takes a serious turn for Sam (L. Peter Callender*), Willie (Adrian Roberts*), and Hally (Andrew Humann*) in Aurora Theatre Company’s Master Harold…and the boys Photo by David Allen

l-r, The day takes a serious turn for Sam (L. Peter Callender*), Willie (Adrian Roberts*), and Hally (Andrew Humann*) in Aurora Theatre Company’s Master Harold…and the boys Photo by David Allen

MASTER HAROLD. . . and the boys: Drama by Athol Fugard. Directed by Timothy Near. Aurora Theatre Company, 2081 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA. (510) 843-4822 or at www.auroratheatre.org.   June17-July 17, 2016.

EXTENDED TO JULY 31, 2016

MASTER HAROLD. . . and the boys magnificently erupts at Aurora Theatre. Rating: ★★★★☆

Aurora Theatre ends its 24th season with a stunning production of MASTER HAROLD. . . and the boys written by Athol Fugard in 1980 and is cogent today as it was then. Fugard who is the South Africa’s premier playwright was an early champion of dismantling apartheid. His plays were instrumental in reaching that goal. The basic story is autobiographical but the play’s construction brilliantly compresses the years of abuse into a taut 90 minutes of riveting theater by combining action in the present and personal/poetical references to past events. Director Timothy Near displays her versatility in this her first foray at the Aurora.

Near is greatly aided by a top-notch cast that includes the consummate professional L. Peter Callender whose performance dominates the stage but also blends beautifully with Adrian Roberts’ understated performance and Andrew Humann’s difficult role as the epitome of white control over the lives of Blacks.

The place is a St. George’s Park Tearoom with a storm raging outside. Hally/Master Harold (Andrew Humann) is a white teenager who is the son of the owners and two black waiters, Sam (L. Peter Callender) and Willie (Adrian Roberts) are long time employees with a congenial relationship masking underlying enmity.  Written into the major theme of unjust separation of blacks and whites are layers of proximate motifs of parental abuse and interpersonal humanity and inhumanity no matter whether white or black. There is a complex relationship between Sam and Hally with each being an instructor/student to each other. While Sam is attempting to guide Hally into adulthood, Hally is a mentor to Sam’s education. Fugard injects a metaphor of kite flying and ballroom dancing to add poetic imagery emphasizing Sam’s continuing raison d’être as protector and instructor of the internally damaged Hally that is integral to the entire play.

There is a joyful passage that defines the bond between a 10-year-old Hally and Sam, his surrogate father, as they recollect the meaning of Sam’s homemade Kite for Hally. Later, the full devastation of why Sam could not share that moment since Hally was sitting on a “white only” bench claws at the heart. That devastation continues in the vitriolic breaking of the bond between Sam and Hally and Sam recounts his rescue of Hally’s alcoholic father from a ‘white only’ salon when Hally was very young.

The dancing metaphor is seamlessly and poetically woven into the philosophical tenets of the play and actually bookend the evening leaving a glimmer of hope that the schism will breached.

All this unfolds on an almost perfect tearoom set (Richard Olmsted) with white a green tile flooring that is surrounded on three sides at the intimate Aurora Theatre that allows the audience to be at an intimate 3 to 6 feet from the action on stage. Highly recommended.

CAST: L. Peter Callender,  Sam; Adrian Roberts, Willie; Andrew Humann, Hally.

ARTISTIC STAFF: Timothy Near,  Director; Athol Fugard, Playwright; Kevin Johnson,  Stage Manager; Michael Koptke and Chelsea Farrah, Choreographers; Devon Labelle, Props Designer; Teddy Hulsker, Sound Designer; Victoria Livingston-Hall – Costume Designer; Kurt Landisman,  Light Designer; Richard Olmsted, Set Designer; Lisa Anne Porter, Dialect Coach, Kellen Hoxworth, Dramaturg.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.

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