"Children of a Lesser God" communicates on multiple levels

(09-23-2009)

Review by Linda Relyea

The first impression of the Adams State College Theatre Department production, "Children of a Lesser God", is how the cast not only memorized lines but they also became proficient with American Sign Language (ASL) and still maintained the emotional level needed to carry the story forward.

The born-deaf character in "Children of a Lesser God", Sarah Norman, is faced with discrimination and false diagnosis of being un-teachable for the majority of her childhood. Her family enrolls her in a school for the deaf and after the age of 18 she will not leave. She becomes the dormitory maid, refuses to visit her mom, and adamantly insists on communicating only through ASL. Brittany Chowning's portrayal of Sarah pulls you out of your seat as you connect with the character's frustration with a world that insists on conformation and perfection.

I literally hung on every sign and word spoken, what would be the outcome, as each scene unfolded. James Leeds, played by David Trudeau, has his own demons to overcome but his love for Sarah is true. Trudeau will knock you out, he speaks verbally for his and Chowning's characters, and signs, and manages to hit the mark exactly of a man trying desperately to connect with his love and build their life together, as equals.

Alamosa native, Jacob Sorling is nothing short of amazing, really he is amazing. It is as if the character he plays, Orin Dennis, actually comes to life. Not to diminish any of the performances - Amanda Lovitt uses body language and simple nuances to communicate her character, Lydia's, insecurity and emotional immaturity. Melissa Rice, Jonathan Andujar, and Dalianti Moncada truly are supporting cast. Their believable performances provide a solid foundation for the more involved roles.

It is obvious the play was directed with compassion and a fervent desire to reach up to the level of deaf communication. Dr. John Taylor, professor of theater, directed the play and he once again combines music, this time recorded, into his production adding yet another level of sophistication to "Children of a Lesser God". His set design of warm and cool light filtering through a series of scrims accentuates moments of intense emotional dialogue and dramatic scenes.

"Children of a Lesser God" has a small cast and a minimalist set, however I predict it will have a tremendous impact on both hearing and deaf audiences.

"Children of a Lesser God" written by Mark Medoff opens at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, on the Adams State Main Stage; and continues at 8 p.m. Sept. 26, Oct. 1, 2, and 3; with a 2 p.m. matinee on September 27 and October 4. For reservations contact the Box Office at 719-587-8499. Tickets are $9 for general public, $7 for seniors and students, and $5 for children 12 and under, and free to Associated Students and Faculty.

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