Share your thoughts

‘Master Harold’ … and the Boys is now open and we are so happy to be sharing Athol Fugard’s masterpiece, the most autobiographical of his plays, with Chicago audiences.

Many of Chicago’s professional theater critics have weighed in on the show, but now’s your chance. Share your own review, comments or questions about the production below.

Leave a Reply

Comments (0)

  1. Jim Henderson

    Timeline has another winning play in Master Harold and the Boys starting with the direction by Jonathan Wilson who impressed me with his attention to the dramatic details of the play. I found this another intimate production that is well-suited for Timeline’s small theater. The tension and depth of the play’s themes were emphasized while there were great performances by all of the cast. This effective pacing of the drama was maintained with constant changes in the relationships of the three characters. These changes were linked by several motifs, notably the metaphor of the dance which from the opening scene under laid the gradual movement toward the climax of the play. I felt the play reached one emotional apex with the beauty of the ballroom dancing floor (“a world without collisions”) as a transcendent metaphor for life and a creative paper topic. The ability of the actors to communicate a wealth of family background, interpersonal relationships and depth of emotions impressed me the most. As the performance ended I left the theater with many thoughts about the drama I had just seen and joy at the experience of another great production from Timeline Theatre.

  2. Rosalie Harris

    The season so far has everything I’d hoped for when I renewed my subscription (having bought more single tickets than I’d anticipated!) RE: “All My Sons” the cast was superb, probably the best production I’ve seen of the play, overcoming the Biblical symbolism I’ve always thought heavy-handed. I think “When She Danced” was misunderstood by others with comments–the zany, confusing, sad portrayal paralleled what we know about Duncan’s life. And “Master Harold…..” was masterfully played, in all roles. Hally has to be played with someone with youth, but also someone who’s seen the world “up close” and is torn between what he sees and what he feels. On to “Farnsworth!”

  3. Arlene Gloria Hirsch

    It gets four stars from me – hey, that’s an A+!

    Directed by Jonathan Wilson, who always gets it right-on-
    –from August Wilson at Goodman to ‘Guys and Dolls’ at Loyola–the three accomplished actors held the audience silent in South Africa.

  4. Roslyn Dobkin

    I joined TimeLine after seeing History Boys. This production reenforces my wise decision. I have seen this play previously and it has not lost its luster through the years. The cast was superb. An exciting and emotional production. Keep up your high standards.

  5. Margaret Newman

    A very emotional, complex play. Sensitive direction by Jonathan Wilson and supurb acting by the three characters. Hally obviously loved Sam because he was everything his own father wasn’t. When he realized his father was coming home from the hospital, his anger was overwhelming and he took it out on Sam and Willy, because he could and the racisim he had been taught, took over. His anger was really for his father, but he couldn’t express that to him. Sam’s character had so much dignity and kindness, that it was almost difficult to believe he could be so loving and wise in the face of his own situation as a man of color in South Africa at that time. The metaphor of the lovely dancing, was integral to the story and was a balance for all the pain that Hally was experiencing.

  6. Susan Nelson

    Thought that “Master Harold … and the Boys” was extremely powerful. Acting and direction, the set, costumes—all were perfect. It is one more reason I’m proud to be a TimeLine subscriber.
    For another look at apartheid from a white’s perspective, consider reading “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight” by Alexandra Fuller. It’s in paperback; it relates a young girl’s view of a situation that she comes to see as atrocious.

  7. Janet Mroczek

    Extremely powerful production. Kudos to the director and all three actors. A good choice again of plays suitable for Timeline’s space and mission. I had not seen a Fugard play before, and your production inspired me and my friends to also see the other two Fugard plays in town this season.
    I also recommend Alexandra Fuller’s book about her experience growing up poor white in the South African bush, “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight.”

  8. Marianna Tax Choldin

    I found the play very moving. I’ve spent time in South Africa since the changes, and found many people–from all ethnic groups–to admire. The people I worked with all felt that it was terribly important to come to terms with their pasts, none of which was easy. Apartheid damaged everyone. Fugard’s characters express these truths so beautifully, and so painfully. Each of the three men was damaged, and I wanted to weep for them. (I did, in fact!) The actors were marvelous.

    Timeline never lets us down. Thank you!

  9. Richard Eastline

    TimeLine’s growing record of offering dynamic, memorable productions continues with this latest revival. Although the plotline of “Master Harold and the Boys” long ago lost its original theme impact, picked up and embellished by others, the essential forcefulness of the trio of characterizations remains undiminished. On the small stage at TimeLine, these individuals grow large and the performances of Willie and Sam are so very much right on target that it would be easy at this point to declare that, for many members of the audience, the fine actors portraying them “own” these roles for life. All in all, superbly produced by all involved.

  10. Jim & Ann Hogan

    “Master Harold … and the Boys” was a very thought provoking play highlighted by three outstanding actors and Wilson’s forceful but sensitive direction. Considering the time it was written and the political climate in South Africa, the open end of the play was the only appropriate conclusion, i.e. no definitive answer. As a 60’s student of African political systems, we had no text book, only the New York Times to keep abreast of a continent in turmoil. Fugard’s play brought back all the emotion of that time.

    We can now reflect on Fugard’s work with the benefit of seeing the collapse of apartheid and the freedom of Nelson Mandela.

    Timeline has done it again — bringing meaning to the times in which we live. BRAVO!

  11. Sam Stephan

    I thought the compassion and forgiveness that Sam showed in
    light of Hally’s insensitivity toward him was very moving.

    I was touched by Alfred Wilson’s portrayal of Sam as someone
    who was very affected by the tragedy of apartheid, but who
    was willing to look forward and beyond the general stereotypes
    of the day.

    In acknowledging that this was a minimalist play, I believe it couldn’t
    have been done better. Superb writing by Mr. Fugard…

  12. Peggy Sullivan

    Had seen this play before, but realized now that I had forgotten much of it. In any case, since I have visited South Africa since seeing the play for the first time — and since the country has had such an amazing history since then — the impact this time was quite different — more powerful. I appreciated the characters more this time, and also appreciated the literary values more. I took time to read the displays in the upper lobby and I know they added much to my enjoyment and appreciation, as did the program.

  13. Jerry Bischoff

    I have seen other plays directed by Jonathan Wilson and he never fails to deliver. I attended “Master Harold and the Boys” on Saturday, March 6, 2010 and was lucky enough to see Jonathan perform in the role of Sam. He was fantastic. Kudos as well to Daniel Bryant and Nate Burger. A beautifully written play performed by three actors who were more than up to the task.

  14. Ann Fox

    Actor playing Master Harold was not convincing…he was too old:) Otherwise the play was great. We are season subscribers and loyal Time Line fans!

  15. George Panagakis

    We enjoyed the performance. Congratulations to the Mister Harold cast for a fine performance.
    George Panagakis

  16. Jeff Kritzer

    I saw Master Harold last Saturday. I had heard of the play and was very curious to see it. Despite the absolutely superb performances by all three actors, and the seriousness and thoughtfulness of the play’s subject, I still found the play, plainly put, too “talky” for my taste until the final, more dramatic twenty minutes of the show.

    However, TimeLine’s mission was more than fulfilled for me through the outstanding edition of Backstory. In fact, I have hunted down and ordered a copy of Fugard’s memoir, and my interest in re-reading “Cry, My Beloved Country” has been piqued.

    One comment on the age of the actor who portrayed Hally. Chris Jones of the Trib also wrote that the actor came across as too old for the role, and I saw another person in this blog make the same observation. That may be true, but I thought that while the character behaved like a seventeen year-old, he by no means spoke like one. A younger actor would have come across falsely, too, just on the basis of the dialogue he would have to work with.

  17. JJ Field

    The actors were much, very much better and more professional than the play. It was far from an enjoyable evening at TimeLine. Taking into consideration that some productions should be presented for the value of a statement to be made, or describing a particular point of view that may not be popular, this was far from contributing to any real point in history. There was so much going on during this peroid of time that was a real contribution to ending the social problems that existed for years. One spoiled white brat and two black waiters hardly describes the situation as it was and did not contribute to any social reform. In view of the years I have been a subscriber, one play that has missed the mark as this will not lessen my support.

  18. John Sterling

    Saw the matinee on 3/13 and went to dinner with a large group of subscribers after. Everyone was moved by the play. The idea of avoiding collisions was a lengthy topic of conversation.
    Personally, I was struck by the feeling of a lost generation (it turned out to be more than one generation lost to apartheid)as Hally overtly embraces the racism that has been institutionalized around him. Well done as always and delighted to see another stellar director working at TimeLine.

  19. Al Cerkan

    A powerful script to be sure, but the execution was energized, believable and riveting! The cast held fast to their characters for the lengthy, uninterrupted 1 hour and 40 minute one act, non-stop dialogue performance. WHEW!

    The back story unfolds in this sensitively directed play in the way that a flower blooms or a concerto develops its character. It is obvious that Jonathan Wilson’s learned hand reached deeply into the actors without controlling their performances; crucial to the collaboration process in a small cast.

    While Hally was portrayed by an actor physically older than the character, the character’s immaturity was well represented in terms of his personal identity with respect to his father and “the boys”. As far as “sounding older” as other bloggers have noted as a criticism, I felt that Hally acted and sounded exactly as any middle teen in the English or South African school system. Unlike our high school boys of the same age, these “chaps” routinely come across as older than their years. I’ve known quite a few and have always acknowledged their refined conversational skills.

    The set design was spot-on. (I REALLY want to know how the windows were made to appear as if in a day-long rainfall!) Set and props were simple and believable.

    Overall, the script provided an evening of thoughtful recreation. But when the lights dimmed as final curtain, I found myself to be profoundly, emotionally moved; not so much by the well-penned script, nor by the socially (historically) relevant subject matter, but simply by the performances …. the obvious respect of the craft by both director and actors, moved by my own appreciation for the effort put into each character development, and for the unabashed honesty and caring that each actor gave to their co-actors, their director and to us, their audience.

    One would do well to aspire to this level of commitment in whatever endeavor they pursued.

    THIS is perhaps the singular reason why I love theater. To walk away at the end of a production feeling that I have witnessed truly artful performances is all I can ask for. I can be absorbed by a script, entranced by costumes and f/x, but when the performance is not wholly honest, not cared for by the actor, then I have not experienced theater, only “a play”. Tonight, I was at theater!

    Thank you for a memorable evening.

    • TimeLine Theatre

      Hi Al – The answer to the windows coated with rain question is liquid glycerin! The design team discussed several options to achieve the effect (including hot glue) but in the end liquid glycerin applied to the back side of the windows worked perfectly. We had to be careful to never touch the windows, as the glycerin never dried. But the effect was amazing! Thank you so much for your comments.