Regional Reviews: San Francisco
The Oldest Boy
The absorbing drama's subtitle is appropriately "A play in three ceremonies" as, instead of normal scenes, most of the action proceeds by various forms of theatre such as related recollections, direct address to the audience, dance, prayer and spectacle. It is all interspersed with Tibetan Buddhist ritual and dance and features renowned Berkeley-based artist Tsering Dorjee Bawa. There are a lot of conversations between Mother and the Lama (Jinn S. Kim) about reincarnation and Eastern and Western Philosophy. Even if you are not fond of these topics there is enough to go on in the two hours to keep you interested.
Christine Albright skillfully plays the mother with passionate dedication and moving indecision. There is fine work by Kurt Uy as the father. He is quietly effective as a father who is more receptive to the idea of Tenzin moving to the monastery. Jimm S. Kim as the kindly lama and Wayne Lee as the beamish monk are excellent in their roles. The whole cast is seething with validity and sensitivity. The young son Tenzin is visually represented by an expressive wooden puppet manipulated by Melvign Badiola and Jed Parsario.
Scenic designer Collette Pollard has devised an excellent upscale living room set and a beautiful Tibetan temple set in the second act. Costumes by Fumiko Bielefedt are colorful authentic outfits. Director Jessica Thebus has skillfully staged the drama to make this a compelling and magnetic two hour production.
The Oldest Boy plays through October 11th, 2015, at Marin Theatre, 397 Miller Ave. Mill Valley. For tickets call 415-388-5208 or visit www.marintheatre.org. Coming up next is Elizabeth Irwin's My Mañana Comes October 29th through November 22nd.