Victory Gardens presents
LOST BOYS OF SUDAN
At Biograph Theatre
2433 N. Lincoln Avenue
Written by Lonnie Carter
Directed by Jim Corti
Thru April 25th
Running Time: Two hours and twenty minutes includes a fifteen minute intermission.
Twelve years old in the United States can't independently see 'PG-13' rated movies. In Sudan, twelve year old boys are being drafted for guerilla warfare. Victory Gardens presents LOST BOYS OF SUDAN, a real life historical nightmare occurring NOW. Since the 1980's, a civil war in Sudan has led to the genocide of African tribes largely based on racial, ethnic and religious conflicts. To escape rape, death, or terrorist recruitment, T-Mac Sam, K-Gar Ollie and A.I. Josh are pushed by their families into the jungles. From the same tribe but with different beliefs: 'My God is behind that cloud,' 'My God is around my neck,' 'My God lives inside me,' the youth band together to escape the tyranny. Their journey takes them from the sweaty confines of the African jungles to the icy containment of Fargo, Dakota North in A-m-e-r-i-c-a. LOST BOYS OF SUDAN is a poignant coming of age story anchored in survival.
'Who is this?' 'What is this?' 'Why am I here?' Soul searching questions for anyone are kicked up a notch for the Sudan teens running from gun fire. In the lead, a girl pretending to be a boy, Leslie Ann Sheppard (K-Gar Ollie) is outstanding. By donning a baggy shirt, she transforms into a boy. The camaraderie between the trio, Sheppard, Namir Smallwood (A.I. Josh) and Samuel G. Roberson, Jr. (T-Mac Sam), is synergistic chemistry. Their struggle to board a plane is moments of true dramedy. LaTricia Kamiko Sealy (Twelve/Molly Midnight) goes from hard ass revolutionist to skittle popping teen queen. Under the direction of Jim Corti, the talented cast performs in multiple roles from Africa to North Dakota.
Playwright Lonnie Carter tells a story of global importance. In Act I, he introduces the violent change in a tribe's tranquil nature. From the beating of the drum, it's a powerful first half penned in a whimsical prose. The naive teens endure with a simple animalistic instinct. Their journey gets a little more ordinary when it moves to North Dakota. Act II skips a beat as the whimsical prose turns rapper cadence. It's not just the lack of gunfire that makes the journey seem too easy. Clichés of basketball, mall hanging out, love at first sight make the assimilation of war survivors to American teenagers unbelievable. It's like the kids from the movie Hotel Rwanda get off the bus into the movie Pleasantville. I miss the gunfire and yearn for the ending. 'I've been in the world and imagined the rest.' Me too, Mr. Carter. Unfortunately, it's easier for me to believe the horrific cruelty of Sudan than the excessive niceness of your Fargo.
Lost Boys of Sudan photos are courtesy of Liz Lauren.