Presented by Exiled Theatre
By James Wilkinson
Directed by Joe Juknievich
Movement direction by Kayleigh Kane
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston, MA) The days of casting the able-bodied to play a disabled person are nearly at an end. We aren’t there yet. While it is unacceptable to cast a white person to play a person of color, it is still marginally acceptable to cast an abled person in the role of a disabled character. Boston has many working actors that identify as seeing impaired. Should a theatre decide to cast an abled person in the role of a disabled character, it behooves the theatre to make it abundantly clear to the audience/disabled community that great pains were taken to either cast from the disabled community, or that the disabled community representative was consulted in the production of the play. Anything less is offensive.
Exiled Theatre’s Nurse Play pits two differently abled characters against each other. The actors aren’t at fault; a job is a job. Cody Sloan and Susannah Wilson give nuanced, powerful performances. Sloan and Wilson should take pride in their work as craftsmen. Wilson as the Nurse has admirable stamina as an actress. Her command of the stage is admirable and reveals great skill. Rather, it is the decisions made by the staff and crew that are problematic.
As a disabled woman, I don’t want to see stories about my community dispersed to the abled because it’s more convenient. It doesn’t matter how well written, directed, or produced a show is (Nurse Play was all three). If a play doesn’t include us then it isn’t really about us. It’s inspiration porn.
A summary of Nurse Play from the Exiled Theatre website: “Tucked away in a boarding house at the edge of the world, Nurse sits in a dark room caring for her patient, Joe. Her eyes were gouged out years ago, but she won’t let a little thing like that slow her down. Joe has been diagnosed with a degenerative disease that keeps him bed bound, out of the light and doped up. He also appears to be missing a limb or two. The pair cannot leave their room and have been left to their own devices for far too long. Then one day Joe disappears and Nurse is left alone to contend with the surrounding darkness.” Nurse Play is a horror genre play that features some bodily fluids, body horror and references past gore. It is not for the faint of heart.
We elected a thin-skinned Nazi to the office of the President who is turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so.
Congressional “negotiators” released a spending bill that saves the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio until September at which time, the President and his impotent cronies may still cut arts funding. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD