The acclaimed Berkshire Theater Group revival of Mark Medoff's 1980 Tony Award-winning "Best Play" Children of a Lesser God transfers to Broadway under the helm of Tony Award winner Kenny Leon.
TV favorite Joshua Jackson, known for his recurring roles on shows such as "The Affair", "Fringe", and "Dawson's Creek", reprises his performance as James Leeds, alongside co-star Lauren Ridloff as Sarah Norman. Both actors are making their Broadway debuts in the production, which began performances at Broadway's Studio 54 on March 22, 2018.
With supertitles and closed captioning at every performance, as well as American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters at select performances, this production is perhaps the most accessible show in Broadway history and is shedding light on the non-hearing world - a demographic of society that receives sadly too little media attention. Kenny Leon's interpretation is a highly-stylized piece with minimalistic set pieces, surrounded by doorways and tree-trunks, bathed in cold and clinical lighting. The warmth of the piece is solely emitted through the intensity of the interactions between James Leeds and Sarah Norman, and with the latter's relationship with her mother, which evolves from estrangement to redemption. The text also highlights the deaf person's ability to enjoy music on a couple of occasions (through sensitivity to vibrations) and Mr. Leon has taken that opportunity to delve into his own collection of favorite artists to supply a soundtrack to Children of a Lesser God, beginning with Stevie Wonder.
For hearing members of the audience, the play is an intriguing insight into the non-hearing world, especially in its consideration of how members of the deaf community relate to each other and if they desire to be a part of the hearing world or shut themselves away from it. For non-hearing members of the audience, Children of a Lesser God is a rare opportunity of total inclusion, where their trials, tribulations and triumphs stand rightfully in the limelight.
Children of a Lesser God also has a lasting legacy thanks to its original Broadway premiere and subsequent 1986 film adaptation. Deaf actors Phyllis Frelich and Marlee Matlin remain the only deaf actresses to have ever won the Tony Award and Academy Award, respectively, for leading roles.
(Photos by Matthew Murphy)