Sam has been a servant in the South African city of Port Elizabeth for many years. But he’s also served as the de facto father and positive role model for Hally, the whip-smart but emotionally deprived son of his employers. In Athol Fugard’s important play “Master Harold … and the boys,” the day arrives when the ugliness of racial apartheid and Hally’s mounting anguish intersect, and Sam is the victim of both.
G. Valmont Thomas returns to the Seattle stage after a long absence, and dominates this West of Lenin production. He summons all of Sam’s dignity, warmth, intelligence, but also all the wariness, dread and pain accumulated as a black man in a racist culture that passes its worst traits to its young.
M. Burke Walker’s production is sluggish at times, and James G. Lindsay captures the angst but little else of Hally. But the play is a classic, and Thomas brings Shakespearean chops and a reservoir of deep understanding to its most important role.
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“Master Harold” continues through Sunday at West of Lenin, 203 N. 36th St., Seattle; $12-$20 (800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com).
Misha Berson, Seattle Times theater critic