Reflections Of A Rock Lobster
A date for the senior prom hardly seems the stuff of inspirational drama, but when the hero is a gay teen of nearly 40 years ago who lives in a small New England town, the possibilities are something else again.
Burgess Clark, the artistic director of Boston Children's Theatre, has made the most of a promising story-line with his adaptation (which he directs) of Aaron Fricke's gay classic memoir.
Fricke's story about growing up gay, "Reflections of a Rock Lobster," published by Alyson Publications of Boston in 1981, hit the bookstores a mere year following Fricke's major triumph when he sued the Cumberland High School administration to take his boyfriend to the big dance.....and won!!!
The story of a bullied teenager whose unprecedented civil rights activism changed the lives of gay and lesbian students, "Reflections of a Rock Lobster," continues through March 11, 2012 at the Boston Center for the Arts.
For about 60 years, BCT has fostered educational and artistic development for children throughout the greater Boston area with such graduates as innovative director and designer Julie Taymor of "Lion King" fame; acting coach Susan Batson to such stars as Nicole Kidman and Sean "P Diddy" Combs (2004 Broadway revival of "Raisin in the Sun"); and Akiba Abaka, artistic director of Up You Mighty Race Theater Company recently a resident at BCA.
With the high-octane production of "Reflections of a Rock Lobster," BCT becomes the first children’s theater nationally to take on the subjects of gay rights and gay life style for teens.
The play follows the years in which Fricke comes to awareness and to terms with being gay, his early sexual awakening relationships with other boys, his home-life with loving parents who are then thrown by his telling them he’s gay, and, of course, how his life is made miserable at his high school when it becomes known that he’s gay and that he has sued for the right to go to the senior prom.
What could have been a play that was a yawn provoking series of teachable moments about anti-bullying and the importance of gay pride for young people, however, is instead highly entertaining.
That is thanks to the ingenuousness of Fricke’s way of telling his story.
Kudos also to the sprightly, truly humorous as well as poignant way Clark has adapted and directed the memoir.
Then too a mighty round of applause to a cast headed by teenager Ian Shain as Aaron augmented by pros Paula Plum and Richard Snee as the parents, Douglas Bowen-Flynn as the gay hater principal (roundly hissed at curtain calls opening night), and Allan Mayo as the acerbic gay rights activist John Delaney, along with many strong performances from the BCT student actors.
Particularly note worthy among the latter is the hilarious portrait of a teenage hypochondriac from Brookline High student Sophia Pekowsky who managed to be both slightly ridiculous yet charming because of her loyal friendship to Aaron what-ever was befalling him (the character was written into the story by Clark).
Finally, the show would be worth seeing without any of the previously noted highlights for its set from Janie Howland which, among other pluses, makes smart use of projected visuals to capture the era and the world as it was in those years. The production values are first rate all around.
This outstanding production from BCT of "Reflections of a Rock Lobster" is a marker in local theater of which we can all take pride.
The world premiere of "Reflections of a Rock Lobster" continues through March 11 in the "Wimberly Theatre at Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St. in Boston’s South End. For more info about the Boston Children’s Theatre production please go on-line at www.bostonchildrenstheatre.org.