Thursday October 19th 2017

“Objects in the Mirror”

★★★★★ There are times I wonder, “just how insulated are our lives”? Do our kids understand the scars of battle, or the “hell” people go through, leaving behind their loved ones  in order to escape what is happening in their world? I think back to the stories we have heard of the Holocaust, forcing the Jews to escape the Nazi party and the death camps (that they were unaware of) and the words we hear on a regular basis, “Never Again”! These are not the only atrocities in our history, and yet, living in our safe little suburbs and neighborhoods, we are truly insulated from the events that have been or are taking place. Shedrick Yarkpai, a refuge from the African Republic of Guinea is the subject of a saga that is now being told on the stage of The Goodman Theatre. Chicago playwright Charles Smith has chronicled the Liberian’s story in a sterling production entitles “Objects In The Mirror”.

Directed by another Smith, Chuck Smith on a cleverly designed set by  (Riccardo Hernandez) using very little scenery but some great projections (Mike Tutaj), that allow us to be transported from Africa to Australia. In this twohours and twenty minutes (with an intermission) we meet Shedrick (played to perfection by Daniel Kyri, making his Goodman debut, and what a powerful debut this is), who must flee his homeland, leaving behind his mother in order to save his own life. His uncle John ( magnificently played by Allen Gilmore) teaches him the ropes so that they can make the transition. Along the way, they must change their identities, making Uncle John the father, and Shedrick using the name of his cousin Zaza (earlier, we meet this character played by Breon Arzell). Shedrick must give up his identity in order to survive, and this is one of the key parts of the play. Are we our name? Does it matter what we are called? If survival can only happen by hiding truths, then should one allow the truths to fade and the lies to become the “new truths”?

During this play, which begins in Australia, in the home of Rob Mosher (deftly handled by Ryan Kitley) we meet “Zaza” aka Shedrick who is doing some work for Rob, and on that particular day has an experience that hurts him to the quick. When riding the bus, he is referred to by the driver as the “N Word”. He wants to complain as Rob suggests, but to do so might just “blow his cover” and as he explains to Rob thru flashbacks we learn of the events that have brought him to this day. We watch him leave his mother, Luopu ( a solid performance by the lovely Lily Mojekwu ) and take his journey to his future, leaving behind his past.

Later, this becomes a problem for the young man. He has had to give up his identity, his life to become his own cousin, who dies and was tossed into a mass grave, but with “his identity” in order for him to take on the other and survive. When he left with his uncle , his mother said, do whatever it takes to survive, which is how he has lived his secondary life, but just how long can the mind take the stress and strain of losing who one was?

This is a very strong story, one that captures the attention of the audience from start to finish.There are points in the script where we have our hero rapped between the two men in his life. Is Rob truly a caring friend who only wants to help this young refugee who appears to be chasing ghosts? Or is Rob what John says, a homosexual loner who only wants Shedrick for himself? Which way should he go? The choices are laid out clearly. If he leaves with his family to an unknown destination he will one day see his mother and her new family. If he opts to stay in Australia and once again become his former self, Shedrick, will he be happy? At the end of the play, we see our hero stand in the sand overlooking the water with his arms outstretched. Powerful way to end the play, and one that can lead to great discussions, even if we know the actual ending.

“Objects In The Mirror”  now on the stage of  The Goodman Theatre (the Albert) in its World Premiere, will continue through June 4th with performances as follows:

Tuesday, May 23rd at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesdays  7:30 p.m.

Thursdays  2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays  2  and 8 p.m.

Sundays  2 and 7:30 p.m. (no evenings on 5/28 and 6/4)

Tickets range from $20- $75 and are available at the box office located at 170 N. Dearborn Street, by calling 312-443-3800 or online at



5/27 Touch Tour at 12:30 p.m. before the 2 p.m. performance which will be audio described

5/31 sign-interpreted   7:30 p.m.

6/3 open-captioned at 2 p.m. and at 5 p.m. a free conversation with Refugee Support Organizations.


Special note of interest The actual Shedrick Yarkpai is now an actor in Australia.

To see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Objects In The Mirror”

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