Friday, March 27, 2009

Miss Evers' Boys

Miss Evers' Boys
Photo: Nathan Johnson

David Feldshuh's Miss Evers' Boys, about the infamous Tuskegee Experiment in which a group of African-American men were deliberately denied treatment for syphilis, has been around for 17 years, most notably in its 1997 Emmy-winning TV adaptation. But in the current production by the Red Fern Theatre Company it still feels as fresh as a spring rain. The stars seem to have aligned for this production: excellent actors perfectly cast, with a director who knows just how to seize on the strengths of the script. Feldshuh's central insight was to focus on the character of Eunice Evers, a selfless nurse who, believing she is doing her best for the men, wins their trust and cares for them through their years of illness and suffering. Played with the utmost grace by Nedra McClyde, who was excellent in Victor Woo and TBA and gets a well-deserved central role here, Nurse Evers is so strongly animated by her calling that she never starts a family of her own; the men become her charges, and she comes to love them dearly. But as Nurse Evers loses faith and the anguish of her inner conflict grows, Ms. McClyde makes us feel both utter sorrow and powerful admiration for the character. Meanwhile the men she cares for make a terrific ensemble, and each has beautifully-played individual scenes as well.

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