Wednesday, March 8, 2017

reviews - THE YELLOW BOAT - Childsplay

Kyle Sorrell, Rudy Ramirez, and Katie McFadzen
Photo by Tim Trumble
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through March 12th.

"...The Yellow Boat is based on a true story. Benjamin Saar was born with hemophilia. He died in 1987 at the age of 8 due to AIDS-related issues after a tainted blood transfusion. ...Benjamin’s father, David Saar, wrote his play telling of his son’s story, but telling it not so much as a straight-forward, documented account of times and dates, and full of hows and whys, but more of a celebration...The Yellow Boat returns to Childsplay, and it’s directed by the man who played David in the original production, and who today is also the theatre’s new Artistic Director, Dwayne Hartford....Performed by a seven-person cast...and played out on a mostly open-area (Carey Wong’s scenic design and William Kirkham’s lighting work as one, effectively creating a change of mood, tone, and atmosphere) The Yellow Boat takes us on a journey reflecting those eight years...Benjamin (played with unflagging, upbeat energy by Rudy Ramirez) speaks directly to the audience with the narrative voice of an ever enthusiastic child....The play’s title comes from a story that Mother tells her boy regarding three boats in a harbor. A red one, a blue one and a yellow one. ...The yellow boar sailed straight up to the sun. ...“I am the yellow boat,” Benjamin declares. And indeed, as the uplifting closing moments arrive, he truly is... This new production has only a short run at Childplay’s home at Tempe Center for the Arts. It closes this weekend. I urge you to take your children. David Saar’s belief that children can reap great benefits from experiences with professional theatre is made nowhere more manifest than here, with Dwayne Hartford’s ultimately uplifting and exemplary new production." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

".A play about death seems an odd choice for a theatrical offering aimed at children, yet David Saar's The Yellow Boat is just as much about living as it is about dying. ...Childsplay presents a new production of the beautiful and moving work with an incredibly gifted cast performing a celebration of this young boy's short life....Benjamin likes to draw and his artwork and the many colors he uses are interwoven throughout the piece in Carey Wong's multi-functional set pieces and inventive prop pieces, William Kirkham's impressive lighting, and Kish Finnegan's colorful costumes. These elements, along with the always present yellow boat—which is used first as the vessel in the folk song and later Benjamin's hospital bed—celebrates Benjamin's creative spirit and passion. Sarr's script is frank but also funny and filled with truthful conversations and natural dialogue that steep the play in realism. ... Rudy Ramirez is completely convincing as the bright and energetic young boy who is full of creativity and a lust for life but ultimately finds himself sick and depressed. Ramirez handles the transformation from healthy to ill seamlessly. ...Katie McFadzen and Kyle Sorrell portray Benjamin's parents with the appropriate emotions one would expect parents of a suffering child feel....Debra K. Stevens is radiant as Joy, the hospital's child life specialist...and Michael Thompson is perfect as Benjamin's best friend Eddy...Director Dwayne Hartford doesn't make one false move in ensuring the realistic tone and characters are treated with respect. ...The Yellow Boat is complex, sincere, funny, creative, witty and sad, yet also full of hope. While it is a heartbreaking story, it is a emotionally rich journey well worth taking. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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