Good Boys And True; Dramatic And An Absolute Pleasure
Last night, I was lucky enough enough to attend an Encore performance of Good Boys And True at Wagner College. The production was produced through the Wagner College group Completely Student Productions. This group, which is run entirely by students, takes on multiple productions a year annually as they produce, direct, choreograph, perform and design all aspects of the show. While each year, C.S.P. produces “big name shows” such as Hair or The Rocky Horror Picture Show, this lesser known show should not go unspoken for as it was an absolute pleasure to watch from beginning to start. And thats where this story begins…
Good Boys and True is the story of a scandal that takes place at a prep high school in the Washington D.C. area in the late 1980’s. Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the play deals with repercussions, lessons learned and individuality as the sex tape finds its way to the public stage after circulating jocks at the high school. With only 6 small characters, the show focuses on the lives of main characters Brandon Hardy and his mother Elizabeth Hardy as their family deal with knowledge and existence of the sex tape. However, each other player in the piece is a huge role to the entire downfall or Brandon’s surroundings.
When it comes to the book itself, I really overall enjoyed the script. I found that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa found ways to be extremely funny in a way that was yelling “Hey! Trying to be funny!”. That wasn’t only nice but refreshing for such a contemporary piece. The script moved the piece along well however at times I did question certain placement of scenes . Specifically, the one the ended the play. I also found myself wondering what if Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa was to expand upon this? Imagine how much more could actually come out of it. Another major point I didn’t like about the script was the character of Maddy Emerson (No offense to Marti Maley who played the role) but I found myself wondering how exactly her part was important in the overall story. It seemed more like the character was there to just be there and not help tell more of the story needed . Overall though, the script definitely provided a good base for the actors to work from as they told this story. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa could definitely make some adjustments for the piece but overall, the foundation of this piece is strong.
A congratulations should be given to the director Brendan Stackhouse who picked, directed and produced a very talented to cast to tell a not so light story. Robert J. Keir, who played Brandon Hardy, was just a pleasure to watch on stage. From the moment at the beginning of the play when he first appeared, he seemed charming, happy and well aware of where he stood in his life. Keir’s emotional journey through out the production was also heartbreaking to watch at times as his world collapses around him getting expelled, loosing his college scholarship and loosing his best friend. He definitely shows all the characteristics of a future leading man. Even more heartbreaking to watch was Sammi Cohen who played Brandon’s mother, Elizabeth Hardy. From the moment the tape is first presented to her till the moment she knows Brandon will lose everything, Cohen truly captures the character of a mother being there for her son. Easily switching back in forth between defending him and wanting to kill him, her emotional journey was draining especially towards the end of Act 1 as she really lets Brandon have it with what he has done. She was a pleasure to watch and truly captured the feeling of that maternal role.
Also, key to the story are such characters as football coach Russel Shea which was played by Dave Resultan. I enjoyed Resultan’s performance and seemed to forget his age as he took on the serious role of the coach who finds the tape, launches the investigation and deals with Elizabeth Hardy as it seems her world continues to fall apart in front of him. Also worth mentioning is John Alati who plays Brandon’s best friend Justin Simmons. Alati was the comic relief of the show providing laugh after laugh in scenes he was featured in. The absolute joy though was watching him switch so much to become serious as the situation with the sex tape evolved into something he realized quickly was too big for all of them. Something definitely worth being noticed.
Also, I’d like to see Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa develop more of the Cheryl Moody role. The girl, who is played by Bianca Vitale, who is humiliated after having sex with Brandon Hardy is a joy to watch when she is on stage but I found myself also wanting her to take more of a part in the story and her more about her. Vitale in the time she has on stage was a joy to watch and truly captured the emotion a high school girl would deal with. Again, I’d really like to see the part further developed upon to allow for more story.
The technical aspects, which are more minimal for most CSP shows, was actually great with blackouts taking place and music being added in for not only sound effects but to make particular scenes more dramatic. I found this not only interesting but effective as it really helped echo the effect of what has actually taken place here.
All in all, I consider myself very lucky I was able to attend the encore performance of Good Boys And True last night at Wagner College. A major congratulations to everyone who worked on the production but also Completely Student Productions who allows for such a form of theatre, where students do everything, to take place. Overall, Good Boys and True is not only a pleasure to watch but turns out to be a good and true night of theatre