Dramaworks' 'Master Harold ... and the boys' tackles issue of race with fine acting, pacing and emotional build-up

Review

Dramaworks' 'Master Harold ... and the boys' tackles issue of race with fine acting, pacing and emotional build-up

Apr 11 2012
Jan Sjostrum | Palm Beach Daily News

In Master Harold...and the boys, Athol Fugard tells a deeply personal story about the heavy cost of racism. Palm Beach Dramaworks brings Fugard's message home in a powerful production that balances the play's achingly beautiful metaphors with its restrained violence. Fugard, a white South African, wrote the play to deal with his shame over an incident in his youth when he demeaned the black man who was his surrogate father. The passionate, beautifully written work requires careful attention to pacing and a gradual build-up of emotion. The play gets all that and more in the production helmed by Bill Hayes and performed by W. Paul Bodie (Sam), Summer Hill Seven (Willie) and Jared McGuire (Hally)... The mood is sunny at the start of the story. The black waiters Sam and Willie have called it a day at Hally's mother's tea shop. Sam is gently mocking Willie, a simple soul portrayed with grace by Seven, as he helps him practice for a ballroom dance competition... ...As Hally violates more and more boundaries, Sam's easy-going indulgence falls away. His true strength is revealed as he battles fiercely for Hally's humanity and his own self-respect. Watching Bodie and McGuire clash is like witnessing the final bruising round in a heavyweight boxing match when both contenders are reeling. Sets, costumes, lights and sound are up to Dramaworks' usual high standards. In sum, Master Harold...and the boys takes its place among the finest productions in Dramaworks' 12-year history.