Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Every now and then we have a play that has everything: a prescient premise, a perfect cast, and a play that makes you hold your breath more than once. Admissions, by Joshua Harmon (Bad Jews), is just such a play and all involved should be proud. Very proud. This is a play that must be seen and you have until November 11th to do so.
An ultra-liberal couple, Sherry and Bill Mason, are, respectively, the head of admissions and the headmaster of an elite private high school. Their brilliant son Charlie is best friends with the mixed-race son of Sherry's friend, Ginnie. Both boys are awaiting acceptance, hopefully, into Yale. They are equally smart, but Charlie is white and Perry is black. Perry is, indeed, accepted and Charlie? He is put on "deferred," which is, essentially, a waitlist.
There is a shocking turn of events that any liberal, free-thinker will find extremely upsetting and one cannot help but take the tribulations of the family personally. I do not want to comment on spoilers and hope that I have whet your interest enough to get yourself into a seat. Suffice to say that the sold out audience at the performance I attended was so quiet, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. Is there a greater homage to a theatre piece?
Director Adler does excellent work with his superb cast. "The technical aspects are, as usual, top drawer for Gablestage, from the perfect duplex designed by the brilliant Lyle Baskin to the atmospheric lighting of Steve Welsh. The sound of designer Matt Corey is "invisible," which is the highest compliment.
Elizabeth Dimon plays Sherry's assistant with the wry eye of someone who has seen it all. Barbara Sloan's Ginnie is as flighty as Charlie says she is. I was as annoyed with her as Charlie is and that's a tribute to Sloan's characterization. Veteran Tom Wahl is the personification of the incredulous, baffled and, ultimately resigned father.
I have saved the best for last. As Charlie, Joshua Hernandez' first entrance becomes a monologue of Hamlet length, and this 23-year-old (who looks all of 17) is off and running. Working at fever pitch throughout, he almost steals every scene he is in. I say "almost" because his scenes are all played with Charlie's parents, and Erika Scotti, making her Gablestage debut, is so perfect as Charlie's mother, you have no idea she is acting. She has the difficult task of delineating the emotions of director of admissions and, ultimately, a mother. Just watch her watch him. There is power in stillness.
Admissions, through November 11, 2018, at Gablestage Theatre, 1200 Anastasia Venue, Coral Gables FL. For tickets please visit gablestage.com or call 305-445-1119.