Directed by DeLisa M. White, Good Boys and True follows Brandon Hardy, a child of good wealth and fortune, and his mother Elizabeth who battle accusations and truths when a sex tape surfaces revealing a teen, resembling Brandon, raping a girl. Set in 1988, this story still rings true. The references and methods of circulation may be dated, yet the discussion is anything but. The text by rising scribe Aguirre-Sacasa is one of his finest. But this production is sadly missing that spark. And it's easy to pinpoint why. The vision from White includes much stillness causing a slow moving story to be presented. And that can be blamed on the scenic design. Designed by Jack and Rebecca Cunningham, White had little to work with. With the confines of locale, there's no wiggle room for the actors, forcing the staging to be quite stationary. The three tiered set allowed the shifts to be sharply motivated by actor and lights but with about three feet to work with, you could see the cast look stuck. To White's credit, her staging included a very consistent vocabulary. Even when the scene was on the stage floor, White kept the action tight. The other issue with the scenic design was the placement of the structure. The tiered playing space is so far from the first row of audience, let alone the rest of the bleachers, that there is an automatic disconnect. Perhaps the placement could be due to where the lights had to be hung but that shouldn't compromise the audience experience. With the Cunninghams creating a sharp angle with their set, the ratio of positive to negative space was a bit drastic, especially since the majority of the action took place on that structure. There’s no denying the creativity that went into Jack and Rebecca’s design. It looked stunning. But it was one of those circumstances that a scenic design altered an entire production.
|Photo by Kyle Connolly|
For a play that dives deep into the richness of character, Good Boys and True seemed to spoil the mystery that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s script naturally contains. It’s likely you picked a conclusion mere moments into the play. This is an important story but Retro Productions didn’t seem to do justice for it. Perhaps with a little reimagining of the set, Good Boys and True could have succeeded.