Beautiful Child

An overwhelming play that shakes you in all the right ways

The other day I experienced a sensation that I constantly seek, but don't often find, at the theater: the feeling of being picked up, turned upside down, and vigorously shaken by the ankles. Nicky Silver's Beautiful Child is an overwhelming play, not only for the shocks the plot presents to the system, but also for its violent yet seamless swings between goofy humor and heavy drama. The piece follows what happens when Isaac (Matt Weimer), a mild-mannered, thirtysomething art teacher, turns to his bickering parents, Harry (Donald Currie) and Nan (Adrienne Krug), for help in the wake of a personal and professional crisis of Sophoclean proportions. What begins as a typical domestic tale of infidelity and suburban disappointment quickly unravels into an unhinged, subversive exploration of parent-child relationships, artistic expression, and self-reliance in a post-post-Freudian era. Under John Dixon's crisply contoured direction, Theatre Rhinoceros' expert cast carries the work's frequent digressions beyond the fourth wall with impeccable comic timing -- making even the highly improbable ending feel logical. Lighting designer Dave Robertson's vivid blocks of light not only underscore the central metaphor of color but also further enhance Beautiful Child's beauty.

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