Presented by Crème de la Crème
The Boy Who Cried is a deeply compelling fever dream. Set in an isolated camp for troubled youth, this offbeat tale follows a huge assortment of counsellors, ominous strangers crouching in fields, criminals and law enforcement! Though expansive, the narrative zeros in on the tense dynamic of a select handful.
An uncomfortably invested Soren is distressed by the recent misbehaviour of her favourite camper, Jayce. After her best friend Harper is promoted, a wedge forms between them as well. Their story unfolds in an astonishingly grounded absurdist delirium as the secrets of the camp and a nearby prison are revealed.
I’m still unpacking the grotesque character studies that propel Brad Gira’s outlandish script through its realm of ghoulish insights. It is such a fascinating, intensely funny world. A pervading sense of dread runs underneath even the most hilarious interactions. Nebulous forces are at work here and something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Gira and co-director William Dao fill the stage with mist, submerging the world of the camp in a constant haze. The campers are never seen, but they exist clearly in our mind’s eye as the actors mime their interactions. I even began to wonder if these kids existed at all, if the camp staff weren’t caught in some mass hysteria.
The ensemble cast deliver colourful eccentricity and quirky antics. Gira intensifies the fun-house reality of the camp through subtle contrast. In a brief appearance, Jayce’s mother seems like an emissary from a more familiar, sensible world from which this camp has been purposefully removed.
The ending’s lack of resolution feels authentic and resonant. It confronts us with an awful truth rarely conveyed in narrative: that psychologically fraught reunions don’t always deliver the catharsis we want. We are often very much alone in our struggle to interpret and contextualize our personal history.
Dramatically, it feels a little messy, but The Boy Who Cried offers an undeniably compelling, weird atmosphere and some heady themes.