Posted by: | Posted on: February 19, 2017


You sat in the dark, looking at the movie screen, wondering and waiting in fear for that one scary moment when the monster comes out and grabs that teen standing too close to the window. You let out a loud scream and the anxiety of fear grips you up and as the movie ends you go home too afraid to go into your room even though you know that monsters aren’t real; or are they.

SYA, Steppenwolf for Young Adults asked this same question in their play called “Monster.” This play based on the New York Times bestselling novel tells a compelling story of Steve Harmon, a 16 year- old African American boy on trial for being a part of a robbery where a life is lost with another life, Steve; being filmed scene by scene as the prosecutor is determining if he should live or die.

Monster tells this story from the eyes of Steve, an aspiring filmmaker as he sits within the juvenile detention center awaiting his faith. He observes the situation in every angle to determine if he is just a boy in the wrong place, pressured to do the wrong things or is he really the Monster everyone is calling him.
This two-hour play grabbed my attention and made me see myself as a young man again afraid of the monster that might one day come and get me and that monster’s name is PERCEPTION.

The way society looks at African American males as monsters just because of the pigment of our skin. Monster examines the prejudice of sight and how what we see can make us perceived others in a negative light. We are taught to love and to hate and the history of those lessons overwhelmingly controls our thoughts about certain people and causes us to react to the teaching we received. Those that are perceived as a monster are limited to the same opportunities to achieve a normal life not realizing that the monster of perception is within us all.

I must admit I became emotionally troubled by this play because it made me relive the trauma of being an African American kid, youth and man where others viewed me as a monster. Although Monster talks about a young man involvement in something wrong that caused him to go to jail, for most African American men we live in a jail of perception every day.

The play itself provided a glimpse of that world for those that may never get a chance to truly understand the plight of the monster we became from birth and how much we fight to have others see us as just a normal average person.

This adaptation by Aaron Carter and directed by SYA artistic director Hallie Gordon was somewhat perplexing to follow and a little choppy at times but if you can maintain a level of focus, you will come out with a better perception of how we can wrongly perceive others.

Daniel Kyri who played Steve Harmon was convincing and the other actors rounded off a well-balanced performance. The ending is the nightmare of all perceived monsters as we search to understand what someone else thinks about us and why they have that perception.

This is a great play for grade school and high school teens and will help them see how perception can be harmful. Monster is at the Steppenwolf Theatre and will run until March 19th, 2017. Because of the message this play seeks to provide,

My Let’s Play rating for Monster is 3 Stars.

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