STANDARDS OF CARE
By Tobias K. Davis
Directed by Claire Avitabile
Also performed at Smith College and UMass
June 6 - 15 and October 2-4, 2008
Patrick's Cabaret, Minneapolis, MN
Nancy - Jill Hildebrandt
Jessica/Jason - Riley Edgeton
David - Anthony Neuman
Stacy - Kaitlin Ziehr
Woman/Waitress - Lacey Piotter
Assistant Director - Anya Kremenetsky
Stage Manager - Marie Odle
Lighting Design - Ursula K. Bowden
Costume Design - Anne Packard
Sound Design - Claire Avitabile
Top 10 Production of 2008 - Lavender Magazine
2008 Lavender Year End Review "Remarkable Performances" given by
Riley Edgeton and Anthony Neuman
KFAI piece by Lydia Howell - Play lovingly explores FTM Transmen identity 6.14.08
Tonight is your last chance to see a truly breakthrough play, STANDARDS OF CARE, by Tobias K. Davis, produced by Twin Cities 20% Theatre Company. While MTF (male-to-female) transwomen's experience has become increasingly visible—-such as the Hollywood hit "TransAmerica"---FTM (female-to-male) transmen usually are invisible to the point where many people might not even know they exist! After this totally engaging play, that can no longer be said.
David is a transman going through the psycho-therapy required for every transgender person, in order to get "the letter" from a therapist that signs off on getting sex-reassignment surgery. Played to perfection by Anthony Neuman, with warmth and quick wit, he wins you over by the end of the first scene. While he has romance struggles with girlfriends who are uneasy with his gender identity, David has a solid sense of his own center. What's most surprising about Neuman's performance is that while only 22, he communicates being almost in his mid-thirties, having survived some years of drug and alcohol abuse and getting sober.
[Riley] Edgeton plays Jessica/Jason, a 16-year-old becoming intensely aware of her-his male identity and through the course of the play, embracing that true identity more and more. Edgeton deftly communicates the touching awkwardness, longing to belong, risk and rage at not being accepted in an extraordinary performance, that bodes well for this 18-year-old Mainstreet School of the Performing Arts' grad's future acting career.
The nexus between David and Jason is Nancy, who is David's gender therapist and Jason's mother. Jill R. Hildebrandt has the tough task of playing the most difficult character. Single for some years, overwhelmed with loneliness, confronted by a professional ethical dilemma and especially challenged by her teenage child's adolescence, Nancy emotionally stumbles in ways that are all-too-human. Holding back nothing, Hildebrandt embodies Nancy's emotional roller-coaster. With Nancy, Davis has written a character who reminds us that love and the desire to be loved can be tested by the limits of our expectations for others.
The friendship that develops between Jason and David is real and moving example of adult-teen mentoring, so needed in the GLBT community. Jason also has a quirky friendship with Stacie, played by Perpich grad Kaitlin Ziehr, which is another delightful element of Davis's story. Part of what I found so deeply affecting about STANDARDS OF CARE is the weight given to friendships.
There's plenty of believable plot twists I won't give away. However, for all the moments of drama Tobias K. Davis so artfully creates, he also has a near-perfect sense of comic timing. Just when emotional tension threatens to go over the top, Davis employs great humor. STANDARDS OF CARE, directed by Claire Avitable (who's also 20% Theatre's artistic director) has an important story to tell and does so balanced with love, humor, pain and promise. I fell in love with these characters and as with all great stories, I know I'll wonder what happened to them after the final scene's end. So will you.
This production was made possible, in part, by grants from PFUND and A Very Small Arts Fund.