‘Children Of A Lesser God’ Review: Joshua Jackson Mansplains It All For You Review REVIEWS

Opening Night:
Closing:
Open Ended

Theater: Studio 54 / 254 West 54th Street, New York, NY, 10019

Synopsis: 

Decades before “mansplaining” came along to fill a void in our national vocabulary, Mark Medoff’s Tony-winning play (and later movie) Children of a Lesser Godprovided both a case study and a denunciation of the infuriating male inclination to tell women just what to feel and how to say it.

Now, 38 years after the play’s New York debut, a Broadway revival directed by Kenny Leon at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Studio 54 starring Joshua Jackson, Lauren Ridloff and Anthony Edwards repeats the lesson to an audience that might not need to be taught. Even with a White House inhabited by a man whose grotesque displays and insults include a resurfaced one aimed at Marlee Matlin, this play no longer has the power to surprise with what was once the unorthodox notion that the “disabled” can speak for themselves, thank you very much, an ability that just might entail rejecting the word “disabled.” Children of a Lesser God lives on now mostly as a well-constructed if somewhat dated relationship drama and as a showcase for its two primary, argument-siding characters, here played by Jackson and Ridloff.

Jackson, in a 180 from his taciturn, angry role as the left-behind husband of Showtime’s The Affair, plays James Leeds, the enthusiastic and well-meaning new teacher at a school for the deaf. Leeds, who is not deaf, is our narrator as he recalls his early days at the school (the setting is the 1970s) and, most significantly, falling in love with, and marrying, Sarah Norman (Ridloff, a former Miss Deaf America), a deaf, non-speaking woman who works as a janitor at the school where she’s lived since adolescence, when her exasperated mother abandoned her physically and emotionally.

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