Anyone who is a parent knows how quickly children grow up. (Think “Sunrise, Sunset.”) But none grow up at quite the breakneck speed that unfolds Before Your Very Eyes. Presented by a group of amateur and professional young actors (pre-teens and teens), this play presents the children at various life stages as they’re commanded to “grow up” by an unseen narrator. Or rather, the children present themselves at various stages of lives in the time allotted (they really don’t age that quickly).
The children are viewed in what comes across as a cage. We are not merely an audience, but almost scientists watching lab rats. The play makes innovative use of the children as even younger selves through video footage. It is a poignant juxtaposition as we see the cast morph from their youngest selves to (through the use of makeup, costumes and body language) moody young adults, unhappy middle-aged people, the elderly with various maladies, and ultimately corpses.
The plot has its predictable moments such as at an awkward cocktail party, which is played very broadly. And some of the youngest actors weren’t convincing as they aged — their youthfulness worked against their transformation. But overall Before Your Very Eyes made me wish I could go back and talk to my younger self; and hammered home the point that a lifetime can go by in the blink of an eye. AFW
The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street
Ticket price: $35
Runs thru: 11/29/15
Running time: 70 minutes, no intermission