The simple story is this: Raymond grows up with a loving single mother, falls in love with the girl next door, but feels compelled to leave them both in search of his father. He stumbles into the life of a boxer, first being used in a betting scam, and then becoming a champion fighter. But he's still searching, not just for his father, but for himself, and who he is outside of the ring. Not a lot happens in the play, it's more of an exploration of characters and a quiet rumination on identity.
|Emily Madigan leaps across the stage to
Theo Langason's music (left) as Neal Hazard (right)
looks on (photo by Dan Norman)
All of the action takes place on a boxing ring, designed and constructed by Derek Lee Miller in Park Square's basement thrust stage, with bleacher seats on the fourth side forming an in-the-round space (read more about that process here). The white square provides a frame within which the story is told and beautiful images are created by the movement of the actors (the piece is co-directed by Theo and Matthew Glover). Samantha Rei Crossland's simple and lovely costumes include retro boxing gear for the men, with pieces added to change character. But it's Emily who gets to wear the most beautiful creations - a simple and graceful off-white shift of a dress, made different with the addition of a gold sash, a newsboy hat, or (my favorite) an ingenious full and floor-length skirt that not only has pockets but is split into pants (where can I buy one of these?!).
Much of theater is busy and talky and flashy; it's refreshing to see something like this in which the pace is unhurried, things play out in their own time, and there are moments of silent movement. Sandbox has a unique process of creation and storytelling style that's put to good use in Queens (continuing through June 4).