Issue 65


Theater Review, April 14, 2018


Transfers poster

Who would have thought two students attending college acceptance and scholarship interviews at an elite northeast university is fodder for a successful, compelling theatrical production?  That the portrayal of such a mundane plot could hold you on the edge of your seat as it pulls on your heartstrings until you are drawn into a maelstrom of swirling raw emotions?  Playwright Lucy Thurber has done just that in her new play Transfers at the Lucille Lortel Theater.

This drama is the story of two young men – an African American and a Latino student from difficult inner city roots who are trying desperately to find an escape hatch.  They are each deeply scarred by their troubled upbringing but somehow have managed to resist being consumed and defeated by their circumstance.

As the story unfolds, the personal angst of growing up in poverty, in broken families, in the face of racial and sexual oppression, is peeled away layer by layer.  Eventually the veneer is cracked revealing what lies below nervous self-assurance on the surface are two very vulnerable souls.

The clock is ticking for Clarence and Cristofer, both from the same neighborhood in the South Bronx (played with extraordinary performances by Ato Blankson-Wood and Juan Castano) and it seems the stakes couldn’t be more apparent.  This message is established early and perhaps too forcefully at times (could Thurber be foreshadowing the hammer blows to the head disclosed later?) by their interview coach played by Glenn Davis and then reinforced by the college interviewers played by Leon Addison Brown and Samantha Soule (also a stand out).

Cast of Transfers

Cast of Transfers: Ato Blankson-Wood, Juan Castano, Samantha Soule, Glenn Davis, and Addison Brown

Without revealing too much here, much is revealed of the boys’ struggles through their interactions with the coach and in the interviews themselves.  The Lortel ushers may as well have distributed soul revealing microscopes to the audience on the way in, much like the ubiquitous 3D glasses at your local multiplex.

Thurber 3Veteran playwright and theater professor at The New School, Thurber is herself a scholarship recipient from an elite university.  She ran a theater workshop in the South Bronx and knows a bit about her characters and their plight first hand. The production was deftly directed by Jackson Gray with simple but effective sets by Donyale Werle. The net result is a captivating drama with a powerful message.  Do try and see this one.

Lortel poster


Published on April 15, 2018 at 1:16 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Can’t wait until it comes up here! Great review, Paul.

    Editor’s response: thanks Eileen, hope you do get a chance to see it – love to hear your reaction.


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