Playwright: Roberto Acquirre-Sacasa At: Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark St. Tickets: 773-338-2177 or raventheatre.com; $36 Runs through: May 3
The Raven Theatre is bringing a new version of Good Boys and True to the North Side this spring. Back in 2008, Steppenwolf Theatre put on the world premiere of the St. Joe's Prep School tale set in Washington, D.C., to stellar reviews.
In this current production, which ensemble member Cody Estle directs, the story about the impact of a sex tape on a private school has strong moments and performances throughout the piece thanks to the cast and relatable writing. Set in the late 1980s, there are cultural references that, at times, are humorous, breaking the heavy dramatic moments. There was just the right amount of humor, even though it's a serious subject, and the actors proved up to the task, engrossing watchers in this intimate space.
Will Kiley, who plays Brandon, has the difficult role of being likable and unlikable at the same time. His character has issues regarding being in the closet that spin the young kid's life and future out of control. If anyone needs to see the repercussions of what happens when students don't deal with their sexuality, this is it laid out in black and white.
Maggie Cain plays Elizabeth, the mother of the boy who exudes strength and conviction while coping the best she can with a bad situation.
It's her sister Maddy Emerson, played by ensemble member Kelli Strickland, who almost steals the show with her interpretation and realness.
Karl Potthoff solidly performs as Coach Russell Shea. Also, Derek Herman is effective as the boy on the side who will have many gay audience members empathizing with his facial expressions of conflict and suffering.
The choice was to leave the actors out onstage to pop in and out of the scenes while deftly pushing the story forward at a quick pace.
Robero Aguirre-Sacasa has written for Glee and the latest remake of Stephen King's Carrie so he knows teen angst and how to convey it correctly. His writing for this play is the backbone, with so much believability that this has the feel of a true story with smart dialogue. The author injects real locations where he grew up into the storyline so it is obviously very personal for him.
The Raven Theatre space is charming and, with this production, it is supporting our community, even holding an "Out at Raven" event in the lobby recently.
For Good Boys and True, it's definitely worth the trip up north to check out a moving, conversation- starting and scandalous story before the end date of May 3.