Writer: Riley Thomas
Director: Riley Thomas
Reviewer: Robert Price
A gunshot opens Riley Thomas’ new play, echoing through the piece as a consequence of what we believe. Convicted explores morality’s application, from many different angles. Amy, played by Jennifer Knox (who holds the show together with her steady hand), works at an advocacy group for LGBT youth. David M. Farrington plays her uptight boss Michael, who seems more concerned with the board of directors than with helping individual people. Farrington embraces the opportunity to take his character on a journey, and does a wonderful job exhibiting both power and vulnerability.
Amy is welcoming to Ryan, an ex-con who’s showed up to fulfill his community service (played by Steven Maier whose strength in this show is being difficult to read and difficult to judge). Ryan shows up on time and does his job correctly despite Michael’s low expectations, but he gets into trouble when he takes a call in the middle of the night. It’s Chris, a kid in Arizona who’s curious about being gay. With Ryan’s help, he leaves his physically abusive home life and takes a bus to New York City. Chris, or Topher as he renames himself, is played by Dylan Boyd, who is an innocent age but speaks with the soul of someone broken by time.
As Topher’s mother, played by Sabina Pera, arrives in New York, the Advocacy group becomes embroiled in this now alleged kidnapping, pushing Michael to the edge. Pera is sincere in her love for the boy, making her character’s world all the more frightening to imagine. The legal jargon tossed around by the lawyers and detectives sets the pace of a debate on morality that rivals the complexity of Shaw.
The production is simple to stage but difficult to wrangle, as the script is filled with important moments that reflect an outsider’s experiences. While the characters are continuously in the right rooms to let their feelings out, some of the plot points are tenuous. The arguments engage the viewer’s intellect regarding their stance on LGBT rights and religion’s societal power, and the conflicts that push the narrative forward provide a platform to discuss serious issues. The procedural nature of the script makes it accessible to a Prime Time TV audience, nationwide.
Reviewed on 17 August 2017 (closing night)