The Oldest Boy is playing at the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre located at Lincoln Center at 66th Street. The play runs two hours with one intermission. It closes on December 28, 2014.
Saral Ruhl is the playwright. She was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for “In the Next Room” (2010) and “The Clean House” (2005).
Celia Keenan-Bolger has been nominated for three Tony Awards for “The Glass Menagerie” (2014), “Peter and the Starcatcher” (2012) and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” (2005).
China invaded Tibet in 1949. More than one million Tibetans were killed. 6,256 monasteries were destroyed and looted, fourteen remain. Tibetan people found themselves exiled to India, Nepal and the Western World. A Lama is a spiritual teacher, or high-ranking Buddhist monk. A Tulku is a high ranking lama who can choose his own rebirth. Rinpoche is a title meaning “precious one”: often used to designate tulkus, or reincarnated lamas.
The time is now. The place is an American city with a large Tibetan community, and a monastery in India.
Mother (Celia Keenan Bolger) is trying to do some yoga. She can hear her three old son crying in the child monitor. When he stops she continues.
There is a knock on the door. Two men, A Lama (James Saito) and A Monk (Jon Norman Schneider) come to visit. Mother thinks they know her husband “Father” (James Yaegashi) who is Tibetan and owns his own restaurant. However they are there to see her son “The Oldest Boy” (Ernest Abula). When she brings him out they test him with some plates, for him to choose his favorite. They asked him questions. The Lama says he is a Rinpoche. The plate he chosen and the answers he gave were those of their teacher who died three years ago.
They convince the family to bring him to India.
The second act the family is in India Mother is 36 weeks pregnant. She has a daughter early grateful it is a girl, she can’t be reincarnated.
They decide to leave “The Oldest Boy” there. Mothers face is tormented,she wonders if she has done the right thing.
This is an interesting play. You will find out more things if you see the play. I don’t think this is a play for everyone. It is a thinking play.
Celia Keenan Bolger does a fantastic job as the tormented mother about to leaving her son. Has she made the right decision?
Oh if I haven’t mentioned it, the son is a puppet. Two women control the feet. Ernest Abura controls the head. He does a great job as the three old voice.
Matt Acheson is the puppet designer. He did the puppets for “War Horse” done at Lincoln Center.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor.
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