By Joanne Von Furstenburg | Posted on April 14, 2018 9:58 AM
Mark Medoff’s Children of a Lesser God has opened on Broadway to negative reviews starring Joshua Jackson and Lauren Ridloff in a production directed by Kenny Leon.
Revival of Mark Medoff Play Directed by Kenny Leon
On April 11, 2018, Children of a Lesser God opened at Studio 54, where it had been running in previews since March 22, 2018. This is the first revival of Mark Medoff’s play since it premiered in 1980. This production is directed by Kenny Leon, whose previous Broadway directing credits include Holler if Ya Hear Me, A Raisin in the Sun, Stick Fly, The Mountaintop, Fences, Radio Golf, and Gem of the Ocean. The cast is led by Joshua Jackson, making his Broadway debut, who is well known for his roles in such television shows as “Dawson’s Creek” and “Fringe,” as well as films such as Cruel Intentions, The Mighty Ducks, One Week, and Sky. Starring opposite Jackson is Lauren Ridloff, also making her Broadway debut. A deaf actress who had a small part in Todd Haynes’ film Wonderstruck, she found her way to Broadway through a wonderful accident; she happened to come on board as Kenny Leon’s sign language instructor, when he was struck by her dynamism and decided to cast her in a revival of this play, which had its out-of-town tryout production with the Berkshire Theatre Group in the summer of 2017. On Broadway, the cast also includes Anthony Edwards, Julee Cerda, Treshelle Edmond, Kecia Lewis, and John McGinty.
Mixed to Negative Reviews for the Production
In their reviews of the show, most major critics found the show to be a bit of a disappointment. Jesse Green from The New York Times called it “a mixed bag of a Broadway revival,” while he did enjoy Lauren Ridloff’s performance, calling it “profound.” David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter was less generous in his response, calling the revival “dreary” and expressing distaste with Leon’s music choices, among other things. He also deemed Leon’s production “sluggish,” finding it less compelling and more didactic than Nina Raines’ play Tribes, which also takes the deaf community as its subject. Marilyn Stasio from Variety was also not a fan, and although she found Ridloff to be a “stunning performer,” she found that Jackson was “barely up to” the task of his burdensome role, which requires giving voice to Sarah’s dialogue in addition to playing his own part. Joe Dziemianowicz from the New York Daily News said there is “something to admire” in Mark Medoff’s play, but felt that the current production is “only fitfully engaging and stirring,” and like his colleagues, admired Ridloff’s performance which he says “leaves a lasting impression.” Greg Evans from Deadline did not like the show very much, calling the play “a well-constructed if somewhat dated relationship drama,” and that “the play might not seem as bold as it once did, but its heart merits understanding.”