Admissions – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

What happens when progressive parents raise an independent and open- minded son and he makes a public statement that is diametrically opposed to all they believe to be true? Will the family survive the fallout and reconcile? Will there be a middle ground for them to meet or are their differences too great a bridge to close? Power and privilege are put to the test by Square One Theatre Company in Stratford as it weighs the educated values of “Admissions” by Joshua Harmon weekends until Sunday, November 24.

Come meet Sherri, a dedicated Janet Rathert, who is conscientious in her perceived mission of elevating the diversity of Hillcrest Academy from 100% white to a more acceptable and liberal number, like 20% black, Hispanic and Asian. As dean of admissions, she is in a unique position to boost the prestige of the school, of which her husband Bill, a proud headmaster Pat Leo, presides over in New Hampshire.

Just listen to Sherri’s numerous conversations with Roberta, a long serving school secretary Ruth Anne Baumgartner, who unfortunately is on a completely different page on the school’s recruitment catalogue. Sherri wants to succeed in welcoming students and get them financial aid. She feels it is of upmost importance that the brochure feature children of diversity, a situation Roberta is unable to initially grasp.

When their precocious and precious son Charlie, an amazing Robert Thomas Halliwell, who has his heart and mind set on attending Yale University, gets a deferment letter, the lid explodes off their everyday lives. To make matters worse, Charlie’s best friend Perry has been accepted and Charlie wonders aloud and loudly how much his race, as the mixed race son of a white mother, Ginnie, a loyal and supportive Lucy Babbitt, and a black dad, factored into the favorable decision.

As we debate the actions of public figures, like the popular actresses going to court and, possibly, to jail for bribing officials to get a valued place for their offspring in college, “Admissions” is timely and provocative in its message. What parent wouldn’t call in a favor or try to stack the deck to get their child a better position on the ladder of success? Whether or not you approve of Charlie’s reaction to his disappointment or his change of heart to rectify his emotions, his powerful performance will activate a stimulating discussion on the way home from the ninety minute no intermission drama. Tom Holehan directs this intriguing look into a world of class where advantages reign supreme and race can represent an ethical dilemma.

For tickets ($22, seniors $20), call Square One Theatre at 203-375-8778 or online at Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Stratford Academy 719 Birdseye Street, Stratford.

Witness how one family reacts when faced with disappointment after having spouted a good game of diversity. How does that honest white liberal stance hold up in their new world of personal denial?