Review: Boy at Big Idea Theatre

Naveen Bhat shines as an adult Adam and young Samantha.

Naveen Bhat shines as an adult Adam and young Samantha.

Photo courtesy of Yarcenia Garcia

Showtimes: Thu 8pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm. Through July 14; $16-$22, $12 on Thu; Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 960-3036;
Rated 5.0

With its current production, Boy, Big Idea Theatre again proves itself to be one of the city’s most adventurous theater companies.

Anna Ziegler wrote this drama that is based on a true story of a male child who suffers a terrible mishap during circumcision. A well-intentioned doctor (although he may have ulterior motives to prove his theory of gender fluidity) persuades the parents to raise the child as a girl. Two decades later, the repercussions of that decision hit all who are involved.

Sam—half of a set of male twins—thus becomes Samantha. Stephen, the other child, is mentioned but never seen. Sam is never comfortable in the imposed identity, choosing in adolescence to become Adam in search of an identity that feels right.

Karen Bombardier directs the engrossing 90-minute play (no intermission) with an invisible hand. Her excellent cast includes Don Hayden as Dr. Wendell Barnes; Laura Kaya and Derek Byrne as the parents Trudy and Doug Turner, respectively; and Leah Daugherty as Jenny, a young woman who captures Adam’s affections.

The standout is Naveen Bhat. The actor slips effortlessly and authentically between a young Samantha and an adult Adam. A subtle change of expression and a bow in the hair is all that is needed to delineate who’s who.