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“This cleverly staged show provides a view of how parenting, education, and government policy can affect a young child...‘A Real Boy’ effectively challenges ideas about individual values, acceptance, and the role of institutions...The cast features a group of thespians that capture their roles...'A Real Boy' is a unique and thought-provoking piece of theater." Full Review
“A real muddle, a weird tale about the plight of marionettes that gets thoroughly tangled in its own plot strings…In all my decades of theatregoing, I cannot think of another play that used its central plot device more awkwardly and to so little effect…The problems abound in Alford's production. The puppet characters lack any sense of individuality…The performances are shrill and overwrought throughout, a clear sign that nobody in the cast has a clear notion of how to proceed.” Full Review
"'A Real Boy' is trying very, very hard to be a real story about real issues...The fact that it fails in spite of the talent is disappointing...Michael and George seem to have some real acting chops. What they have not been guided to do is handle a marionette...The reality of this choice–to make the marionettes, well, marionettes instead of 'people'–creates a conflict that buries the story...The parable sputters across the finish line, and the good intentions are for naught." Full Review
“Ann Beyersdorfer's set represents a kindergarten classroom, although kindergarten classrooms no longer look like this one...Nevertheless, this is the least of 'A Real Boy's' problems. Those begin with an hour-and-50-minute, jumbled, overwritten script that clouds whatever issues it's trying to address with so many fantastical and thinly satiric distractions that you're never quite sure just what it wants to say, which arguments you should favor, or just what those arguments are.” Full Review
"Kaplan’s tackling racism, homophobia, bigotry...But it pains me to say, that this play and its production is a major fail on almost all counts. A full F grade...Everything about the space, design, and construction work against the play making transitional moments overly long and tedious...The text, especially in the last ten minutes, squanders all the possibilities of making a clear and concise point...This show sunk down to the bottom of the tank with each passing minute.” Full Review
"A work-in-progress...'A Real Boy' veers off into far too many directions...'A Real Boy' contains some wonderfully absurd situations and dialog...But neither the director, Audrey Alford, nor the diverse cast have quite figured out the tone or the direction they want to go with this. The plot...needs to be more sharply focused, and the characters need to be more clearly drawn...The play is in sore need of honing and polishing in order to escape its thematic tug-of-war." Full Review
"A thoroughly original way to examine prejudice from both sides of the fence...And now, the bad news...The omissions in writing obscure parallels...The play’s ending is effective and unexpected. Alford seems oblivious to stage sight lines...Acting is wildly uneven. Neither actor/handler is an adequate puppeteer...There are lots of good ideas here, but not enough distinctive writing." Full Review
“Kaplan's colored his play with so much commentary...the result disorients rather than illuminates. The staging, under the sloppy direction of Audrey Alford, adds to the confusion…It's hard to see what's happening…Which, frankly, is just as well…While the puppets are underwhelming, the human characters are overdone…If Kaplan and other members of this production had studied reality more closely themselves, they might have given audiences a real play." Full Review
"The telling of the didactic post-modern tale ranges in tone from witty satire to serious discourse, from full-blown tension to symbol-laden fantasy...Despite some unclear symbolism at the play’s end, an unexpectedly easy resolution to all the antipathy, the inexplicable transition from puppets into people, and a marked shift in mood...,through the use of humor and imagination, 'A Real Boy' delivers an important message for our troubled times.” Full Review
"'A Real Boy' certainly raises some interesting and uneasy questions, but unfortunately it gets tangled in symbolism and loses emotional connection with the audience. But despite the fact that the play gets confused by its own conventions and, as a result, suffers from muddled direction and acting, 'A Real Boy' bares a grain of noble intention." Full Review
"Stephen Kaplan's 'A Real Boy' is about a pair of puppets, named Peter and Mary Ann Myers, who adopt the eponymous child named Max, and it proves about as preposterous as such a premise suggests. It isn't helped by director Audrey Alford's often awkward staging, or by a muddled and confusing conclusion." Full Review
"It becomes almost immediately apparent that we are dealing with a hilariously simplistic play that wants to function as a strained allegory about learning to tolerate difference...The marionette work here is so tentative that it feels like both Michael and George have been plunged into their task without adequate training…In the midst of this bewildering whack-a-mole symbolism, Danie Steel gives a snazzy sketch-comedy performance." Full Review
"The play deals with the essential ideas of self-acceptance and acceptance of others, and the emotional intensity of the performers is commendable, but, the use of the puppets was a hindrance rather than an enhancement to metaphor and emotion. I wanted to see George’s face as Mary grappled with what was best for Max, but I was distracted by the clumsiness of the expressionless puppet. Selznick also gives a moving performance and their vulnerable portrayal of Max was a highlight." Full Review
See it if You enjoy shows with clever concepts that are well written and you can appreciate satire and allegories.
Don't see it if You require your shows to be literal and can't appreciate a good metaphor
See it if you enjoy puppets without personalities; decent acting within an overlong and slow moving production; interesting ideas unfulfilled
Don't see it if you hate puppets of any kind; you are not able to suspend your beliefs in reality; this is not Pinocchio, and not for kids.
See it if You enjoy shows where you interpret the message for yourself and think about it for a long time afterwards; you like satirical comedy
Don't see it if You don't enjoy puppets or a challenging, experimental piece
See it if You like a unique vision mixed with puppetry and a refreshing change of pace in regards to story.
Don't see it if You need everything tied up neatly or like the story to follow a simple 1-2-3 plot structure.
See it if -You enjoy seeing theatre that makes you think -You enjoy new and ambitious work -You joy something experimental and groundbreaking
Don't see it if -You just want to be entertained -Aren't open minded
See it if you want to see a dynamic duality of performance between puppet and puppeteer, with a thoughtful confrontation of ingrained prejudices
Don't see it if you don't like being in close quarters with the performance, or if issues of discrimination and family separation are triggering
See it if want to enjoy a great show with wonderful writing! Stephen Kaplan is an incredible teacher and an equally gifted playwright!!
Don't see it if you are afraid to challenge your own beliefs and explore societal prejudices from a whimsical point of view.
See it if You are willing to look beyond your own prejudices and belief and look for a deeper meaning in what you see.
Don't see it if You are looking for simple entertainment. It is not Pinocchio.