Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-08-05
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Master Harold ...and the Boys
by Jonathan Abarbanel

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Athol Fugard At: TimeLine ( sic ) Theatre, 615 W. Wellington. Tickets: 773-281-8463;; $25-$35. Runs through: March 21

The genius of South African playwright Athol Fugard is that his many plays ( 1960-1990s ) each chronicles the horrors of apartheid and the insidious stupidities of racial hatred while retaining stylistic grace, warmth, frequent humor and compassionate humanity. Even his white antagonists are not evil in their moral blindness, but products of their time and culture. His black characters, trapped by their time and denial of their culture, typically are far wiser.

Written in 1982, Master Harold ... and the Boys is deeply autobiographical down to the characters' names. It's set in 1950 when South Africa's apartheid policy still was new, although colonialism and vicious racism long had been part of the nation's legal and social structure. The antagonist, Hally, is a 17-year-old white boy—Fugard himself—whose deepest friendships have been with his family's Black employees, Sam and Willie, but especially Sam. The friendship unravels in the course of this 100-minute "real time" play.

The unhappy child of an unhappy marriage, Hally experiences rage, conflict, fear and guilt having little to do with racism. But will they become so? Will Hally—who would be 62 when South Africa's white supremacist government finally fell—embrace anti-apartheid reform as Fugard did? Or will he become the bitter, diehard racist his father is, and Fugard's father was? Such is the richness of Fugard's pithy imagery that a kite made of brown paper, a park bench and a ballroom dancing competition become thorough metaphors for South African segregated society ... and for human relations anywhere.

Master director Jonathan Wilson is at the top of his game ( and will take on the role of Sam beginning March 1 ) . His three actors deliver rich, nuanced and deeply thought-out performances, and Wilson's staging exhibits a graceful economy with no wasted gestures or indecisive moves. The setting is a small tea shop owned by Hally's mother. The constant choreography is fascinating as Hally carelessly helps himself to food and drink and spreads his mess around while Sam and Willie quietly and patiently serve him and clean up after him. Ultimately, Master Harold is about Sam's efforts to clean up Hally's emotional mess, and we must believe that Hally comes to understand that or it's a very sad play indeed.

Respected veteran Alfred H. Wilson is majestic as Sam, the older and wiser of the two Black characters and the play's hero. Wilson's upright carriage, unhurried movement and speech, and frequent bemused attitude bespeak a man who has seen it all and survived it all. He cares deeply about his friend Willy, but invests his hopes for a better future in Hally. Smaller and livelier, Daniel Bryant as Willie carries his anger closer to the surface than Sam and makes the perfect foil. Also, as written and as beautifully performed, Willie and Sam are each other's guardians.

As Hally, Nate Burger is a brightly promising new face. Not yet out of college ( Loyola ) , he's nonetheless fully confident in portraying Hally's emotional swings and deep insecurities. If he were physically smaller than Sam or Willie ( or both ) , the power dynamic would be viscerally more forceful, but his taller stature in no way mars Burger's interpretation.

Timothy Mann designed the plain, tile-floored tea shop of yesteryear, which is correct in every period detail except the far-too-modern jukebox.

Note: Two other Athol Fugard plays are in production this season. The Island currently is running at Remy Bumppo Theatre through March 7, and Court Theatre offers Sizwe Banzi is Dead, May 13-June 13. See .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Lookingglass hosting 'Eastland' watch party Aug. 20 2020-08-08
American Blues kicks off reading series Aug. 7 with 'A Shot' 2020-08-06
Fellowship for local Black theater artists announced 2020-08-05
STREAMING THEATER REVIEW Alas: A Monologue from Matei Visniec's Cabaret of Words 2020-08-04
About Face Theatre names new associate artistic director 2020-07-29
Greenhouse Theater stops creating shows 2020-07-28
Oil Lamp Theater hosting drive-in premiere Aug. 7 2020-07-25
Ruth Bader Ginsburg exhibit extended 2020-07-24
'Women Take the Stage' concert event Aug. 26 2020-07-23
STREAMING THEATER REVIEW Groups of Ten or More People 2020-07-21
'Christmas Bingo: Summer Edition' online through July 2020-07-21
Goodman reimagines summer education 2020-07-21
Fellowship for local Black theater artists announced 2020-07-16
Court's new season: 'Othello,' August Wilson, 'Theatre & Thought' series 2020-07-14
Filament Theatre director stepping down 2020-07-14
STREAMING THEATER REVIEW The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Vol. 4, Lockdown! 2020-07-08
Director David Zak steps down from post after community outcry 2020-07-04
Broadway suspends shows through 2020 2020-06-30
'Magic Parlour at Home' during July 2020-06-28
CHF talk to feature Abby McEnany and Samantha Irby 2020-06-24
THEATER Despite everything, there are shows for Pride Week 2020-06-24
Raven Theatre names new managing director 2020-06-24
47th Non-Equity Jeff Awards announces honorees 2020-06-22
'That's Queer, Grandma' June 22-July 6 2020-06-17
COVID-19 Mercury Theater permanently closing 2020-06-17
The Last Sunday in June online live reading June 28 2020-06-16
'Christmas Bingo: Summer Edition' online through July 2020-06-16
Music Box, Kino Lorber hosting film 'Proud' starting June 19 2020-06-16
Sideshow streaming 'Tilikum' June 19 for #LetUsBreathe Collective 2020-06-13
Out professor named NU school dean 2020-06-12
'Come from Away' switched to 2021 2020-06-11
NUNN ON ONE TELEVISION Ariane Labed plays numbers game in 'Trigonometry' 2020-06-10
THEATER Pride in Place Festival brings LGBTQ theater to stay-at-home audiences 2020-06-09
SHOWBIZ Ruby Rose, Tamron Hall, actors come out, Billy Porter, Sondheim 2020-06-09
Victory Gardens ED leaving amid rising tensions 2020-06-09
Second City co-owner leaves after theater is charged with racism 2020-06-07
STREAMING THEATER REVIEW Cymbeline: A Folk Tale With Music 2020-06-07
47th annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards postponed 2020-06-03
STREAMING THEATER REVIEW Improv House Party 2020-06-03
THEATER Larry Kramer (1935-2020), polemicist and playwright 2020-05-30

Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.