Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

No Child

Lela Elam
The Gable Stage presents Carbonell Award winner Lela Elam in the one-person show No Child by Nilaja Sun. No Child had its world premiere at the Epic Theatre Center in New York in May of 2006, before being produced Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theatre starring Nilaja Sun. The show received a Lucille Lortel Award, and Nilaja Sun won an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Theatre World Award, an Obie Award and the John Gassner Playwriting Award. No Child was also named the Best One-Person Show at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.

Author Nilaja Sun states: "I created this piece to be a snapshot from the trenches, something entertaining and provocative that'll get people talking about the sate of our public schools." Set in New York City, the show does indeed movingly shine a light on the struggles of teaching and the miracles of learning that occur in America's public school system. As the actress transforms herself into an entire classroom of children, their teachers, their parents, the principal, the janitor and a school security guard we see that one person, driven by passion and bound by commitment, can make a meaningful difference.

The GableStage production requires one set of a scrappy looking school (Malcolm X High School), one costume and one very versatile actress. Lela Elam deftly plays 16 different characters. The part of teaching artist Ms. Sun is the one who holds most of our interest, as it is really her story. Elam plays her beautifully filled with hope and doubt, and in the end, growth. The character of the narrator, Janitor Baron, probably is the most colorful in how strongly he contrasts with the other characters portrayed. Elam flips from character to character in rapid succession. Her only assistance is occasional lighting changes to indicate time transitions. She defines her characters cleanly without losing the momentum or focus of each scene. The only flaw in this worthy performance is that the Asian accent she uses for the character of Ms. Tam needs some work. This is a strong performance of a show with an eloquent message and an appealing contemporary feel.

No Child will be appearing at The GableStage through May 17, 2009. The GableStage is located in the eastern section of the Biltmore Hotel, at 1200 Anastasia Avenue, in Coral Gables, Florida. Valet parking is available, or free parking is available in the Biltmore parking area west of the hotel. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $42.50 Friday-Saturday and Sunday matinee, $37.50. For tickets and information you may reach them at 305-445-1119 or on line at

The GableStage, formerly known as the Florida Shakespeare Theatre, is a professional theatre presenting classic and contemporary theatre year round. They are members of the Theatre League of South Florida, the Florida Cultural Alliance, the Theatre Communications Group, and the Dade Cultural Alliance. The GableStage hires local a nd non-local Equity and non-union actors and actresses, and is involved with the educational community in promoting educational theatre programs.

Lela Elam*

Director: Joseph Adler
Scenic Design: Tim Connelly
Lighting Design: Jeff Quinn
Sound Design: Matt Corey
Stage Manager: Kristen Pieski*

*Indicates a member of Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.

Photo: George Schiavone

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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