Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mini-Review of "The Last September" by Nina de Gramont - A Riveting Debut Novel



Nina de Gramont's debut novel, "The Last September," is a triumph.  I could not put it down.  She manages to weave together a murder mystery that contains threads of Emily Dickinson's poetry, an examination of what it means to live with a schizophrenic in the family, and the vicissitudes of  a less than perfect marriage.

Brett and Charlie are married and living near the home of Emily Dickinson in Western Massachusetts.  Charlie's brother, Eli, has devolved from being a promising pre-med student to being a chronic schizophrenic living from one enforced hospitalization to another. Brett's world falls apart when Charlie is murdered while visiting the family home on Cape Cod, and it looks as if his brother may have been the murderer.  Ms. de Gamony has created memorable and sometimes quirky characters who grab the reader's attention and sympathy. This is a promising beginning to what I hope will be a long literary career for this gifted author.

Enjoy!

Al

Company One Presents The New England Premiere of "The T Party" - A Play Created & Directed By Natsu Onoda Power - A Tantalizing Treatment of a Timely Topic


The current Company One production of "The T Party" by Natsu Onoda Power is a play, a party, a series of vignettes, and a happening - all centered on the topic of non-binary gender expression, especially aspects of the transgender conversations that are happening in our nation.  The audience members walk into the theater while a high school Senior Prom is happening, and are encouraged to join in the dancing and fastivities.

Playwright and Director Power began work on this play almost ten years ago, during a time when the level of knowledge and conversation about transgender issues was in its infancy compared to the level of discourse in 2016.  She sets the play in 2007, when it was very controversial for someone to bring a same sex or transgender date to a high school prom.  The opening sequence hints at some of the bullying and awkwardness that would have taken place at one of those proms.

Cast and Audience members party
"The T Party"
Company One
Boston Center for the Arts
Through August 13th
Photo by Paul Fox
Ms. Power has worked with Company One in the past.  Her play, "Astro Boy & The God Of Comics" was a favorite of critics and audiences two summers ago. She has assembled a diverse and gifted ensemble to help her to throw this Party: Kadahj Bennett, David J. Castillo, Matthew Dray, Alex Jacobs, Mal Malme, Jade Sylvan, Alyssandra Taylor, and Gigi Watson.  Most of the players take on more than one role as the vignettes unfold and the Party progresses. One of the most dramatic transformations is that of David J. Castillo.  During the Prom, he is a bundle of nervous and frenetic energy, flitting everywhere with nervous tics and facial features that make one think of a young person suffering from Asperger's Syndrome. Later in the play, he assumes the role of a very self-assured trans woman holding her own in a challenging conversation.

Jade Sylvan, David J. Castillo, Alex Jacobs
"The T Party"
Company One
Boston Center for the Arts
Through August 13th
Photo by Paul Fox
The creative team help to set the right tone for this T Party: Lighting by Justin Pace, Costumes by Tyler Kinney, Sound and Original Song by Lee Schuna, Choreography by Eileen Herman -Hasse and Raul Nieves, Video and Projection by Madie Hays.

The topic of transgender identity and struggles is as timely as today's weather report.  The NBA has entered the fray by pulling the All Star Game from North Carolina in response to that state passing restrictive legislation limiting trans rights.  The topic became personally timely for me this week when I watched a Facebook video posted by a friend of mine who is a NYC-based actor. My friend was standing in line at a Midtown Manhattan McDonald's behind a trans woman,  As they waited for their sandwiches to be delivered, my friend observed the woman being harassed by several young men who were seated at a nearby table. Sensing that a physical confrontation might be brewing, my friend shared his fear and his inner thoughts about what he should do - if anything.  He summoned his courage and confronted the men who were bothering this woman who wanted nothing more than to collect her sandwich and get on with her day. The bigots eventually backed down, and the woman thanked my friend for his support.  In microcosm, this is a picture of what our trans brothers and sisters face each day.  "The T Party," with its disco ball and glittering tiaras, sheds some light on the struggles, and is a worthy catalyst for further discussion and action to ensure safety and fairness for all who struggle with issues of living out their lives hassle free.

Kadahj Bennett, Tori Clay, Mal Malme
"The T Party"
Company One
Boston Center for the Arts
Through August 13th
Photo by Paul Fox
"The T Party" will continue at Boston Center for the Arts through August 13th. Come and join the celebration and the conversation.

Company One Website

Enjoy!

Al