Theater Info for the Washington DC region

McLean Community Players Children of a Lesser God

By • Oct 25th, 2007 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of the McLean Community Players’ production of Children of a Lesser God [MP3 4:44 2.2MB].

Laura: This is the review of Children of a Lesser God, performed by the McLean Community Players in McLean, Virginia. Mike and I saw the performance Friday, October 19, 2007.

Mike: Unfortunately I just could not get into this show. I was really looking forward to it. We have a two year old niece who is deaf. She already has hearing aids, is very early in the process of learning sign language. I was really looking forward to this show. I don’t know why. I’ve never seen the movie. I just knew it was about deaf issues. I just could not get into the play, it really didn’t do a lot for me.

Laura: Overall I felt I understood this show. I can kind of relate because I have some physical handicaps that make me sometimes feel set apart. The actors and actresses who were deaf or hearing impaired were also apart from the rest of people. I could understand where they were coming from. I think they did a good job. Their hands were probably really tired from all that signing. Over all I think they did a good job.

Mike: Children of a Lesser God is a play by Mark Medoff. It focuses on the conflicted professional and romantic relationship between hearing and speech impaired student Sarah Norman and her teacher James Leeds.

Laura: Sarah, the student at the deaf school who had grown up there and was now part of the cleaning crew was played by Brianne Burger. She did a good job. She seemed to be very angry. Her refusal to lip read or to speak was very apparent. She was pretty stubborn and stood up for what she believed. But I also think she wanted to be accepted for who she was.

Mike: James was a teacher at the school. He was played by Jonathan Dyer. James also served as the show’s narrator and translator. He had most of the spoken lines in the show and he would explain through interpreting what the other performers would sign for those of us who are not able to read sign language. He did well with that. He did have to learn how to do sign language as a requirement of this show.

I really didn’t like the character of James, though. The relationship that he formed with Sarah just did not feel right. The way it was kind of executed I didn’t really like either. Sneaking in through her window and lying to his students. I wasn’t real sympathetic. Maybe that partly why this how just didn’t work for me. He did have a hard part. It was a long time to be on stage. He was on stage for pretty much the entire show. He was always talking with his hands, listening to his music, trying to communicate and being frustrated with his wife Sarah.

Laura: The set for Children of a Lesser God was a simple set per the playwright’s requirements. They had benches and blocks that they would take on and off for various set pieces. Everything was pretty simple. The Set Designer was Dinnie Whitson.

Mike: I will say that the backstage crew had to be one of the busiest crews I have ever seen. They were out there between every scene moving the blocks around and moving the window/chalkboard. Rearranging. Moving a bed in place. Moving the bed out of place. That was almost a little distracting at times because they were always out there. I don’t think the simplicity of the set, even though it was very simple, stayed with me. It felt like they were always out there moving stuff around.

Laura: Children of a Lesser God is approximately two and a half hours with one intermission. It is playing through Saturday November 3 at the Alden Theater in McLean, Virginia. Friday and Saturdays at 8 and a Sunday matinee on the 28th at 2 pm.

Mike: After the performance on Sunday the 28th there will be a seminar held to learn more about some of the issues raised in the show as well as discussion with the deaf theater consultant that helped out with the show, Cynthia Roberson. We encourage you to check that out on Sunday October 28th.

Laura: And now, on with the show.


  • Sarah: Brianne Burger
  • James: Jonathan Dyer
  • Orin: Michael Royer
  • Mr. Franklin: Paul Tamney
  • Mrs. Norman: Rebecca Lenehan
  • Lydia: Katie Roth
  • Mrs. Klein: Jennifer Levy


  • Director: Mike Scott
  • Associate Director: Terry Yates
  • Producer: George Farnsworth
  • Associate Producers: Jennifer Spitulnik, Patti Green-Roth
  • Deaf Theater Consultant: Cynthia Roberts
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Shayne Gardner
  • Technical Director: George Farnsworth
  • Set Designer: Dinnie Whitson
  • Props: Emily Besuden
  • Lighting Designer: Jerry Bonnes
  • Set Construction: Bill Glikbarg, Herb Rothenberg, George Farnsworth, Bob Zeigler
  • Backstage Crew: Emily Besuden, Mary Renschler, Summer Donaldson, Wendy Granat Humphries, Sarah Tate, Jenni Spitulnik, Bunny Bonnes
  • Costumes: Cathy Farnsworth
  • House Manager Columba Brumby
  • Webmaster, Playbill: George Farnsworth
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