Stage Review

No Child... (2006)

RISING SUN The writer-actress glows, playing 17 parts with unflagging energy in her tour de force No Child...
RISING SUN The writer-actress glows, playing 17 parts with unflagging energy in her tour de force No Child...
EW's GRADE
A

Details Opening Date: Jul 16, 2006; Lead Performance: Nilaja Sun; Writer: Nilaja Sun; Director: Hal Brooks

A couple seasons back, Sarah Jones burst onto the Off Broadway scene with Bridge & Tunnel and raised the proverbial bar for solo shows. Now, with the sensational No Child..., Nilaja Sun has pretty much obliterated it. Comparisons with Jones are inevitable: They're both women of color who write and perform their own work; both trot out a seemingly endless array of accents and characters; both bravely rely not on props and sets but on their audiences' imaginations. In her semi-autobiographical piece, Sun plays some 17 parts, including herself, an idealistic starving actor/teaching artist at the fictional Malcolm X High School in the Bronx, N.Y. Her task? To get a class of ''spirited'' teens to read and perform in Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good. (And no, the irony of casting ''a group of delinquents'' in a drama about convicts does not escape her.) Pinballing across the Barrow Street Theater stage, Sun morphs easily into a gum-cracking black girl, an over-vigilant security guard, a beleaguered Asian teacher, a grizzled seen-it-all janitor — for the entire hour and a half, her energy is infectious and unflagging. (How does she do it? Gingko? B vitamins? Inquiring sleep-deprived minds want to know.) In the end, ''Ms. Sun'' the teacher finds both success and failure. As for Ms. Sun the writer-actress, she finds only success. (Tickets: Telecharge.com or 212-239-6200)

Originally posted Aug 24, 2006