Looking back as a 20-something, Adam Turner remembers his high school prom as agony. He was living as a girl back then. He wore a dress. His date groped him. Years after the traumatic event, he recounts the experience to his soul mate, Jenny. He speaks quietly, but his pain manifests with such immediacy that we can almost hear the dance music and see the corsages.
That’s because, in director Susan Marie Rhea’s graceful staging of Boy for the Keegan Theatre, Adam and Jenny are played by John Jones and Lida Maria Benson. These two actors have stage presence to spare, and their naturalistic performances and in-sync rapport bring out the heart and urgency in Anna Ziegler’s thoughtfully restrained 2016 play.
Not that the duo are the production’s only assets: An able supporting cast and limber pacing also quicken “Boy,” which is inspired by a true story.
The pivotal role of Adam requires the performer to trace the character over two decades, two gender identities, and a spectrum of confusion and decisiveness. Jones, a Catholic University senior … pulls off this feat admirably. … Benson is marvelous as Jenny, a spirited single mother often flummoxed by Adam’s behavior. Also commendable is Vishwas, whose sharply drawn Dr. Barnes has real affection for his patient, but not enough to dampen his scientific arrogance and professional ambition.