PRC 2’s latest offering , No Child…,begins on the start of a brand new day at Malcolm X High School in the Bronx. A kindhearted, elderly janitor is busily sweeping the school’s floor. Complete with a limp and the wisest of perspectives, this janitor serves as the show’s narrator, relating to the audience the story of young Miss Sun, a “teaching artist,” who comes to the school to teach a six week theatre course to its “worst class.” Her seemingly hopeless students include the rebellious and sometimes violent Jerome, the sassy Shandricka, and a whole host of colorful, truly unforgettable characters.
The catch? Every last one of these amazing characters (and then some) is portrayed by Nilaja Sun, who is also the show’s writer. From frenzied classroom scenes to quiet, reflective moments, Sun does it all, and she does it so well it appears effortless. Her face and body become amazing, versatile instruments that allow her performance to be nothing short of magic. Sun, along with the immaculate direction of Hal Brooks, creates an entire cast of believable, vibrant, and loveable- to-the- core characters, characters that aren’t that different from the ones you’d find in any high school.
Though the show touches on pertinent issues and tackles tough questions about the gaps in the educational system, it is more a story of transformation and of hope. It’s about what happens when a good teacher enters the classroom, a teacher who, against all odds, refuses to give up on her students and whose students refuse to give up on her.
Believability, humor, and one of the strongest actresses to ever grace Kenan Theatre’s stage are the performance’s core strengths. Perfectly timed lighting, simple props, and drab clothes that avoid detracting attention from right where it belongs- on Sun’s amazing, chameleon-like face, don’t hurt either. No Child… is the perfect play for anyone who dreams of making a difference, but who needs a little encouragement along the way.
No Child… runs January 11-15, with evening performances at 7:30pm, and a matinee at 2:00pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 919-962-7529 (PLAY).