What parents don't know about adolescents

Theatre Confetti's "Edith Can Shoot Things'

2 minute read
Justin Jain, Bi Jean Ngo, Steve Pacek: Brave new world of parental abandonment.
Justin Jain, Bi Jean Ngo, Steve Pacek: Brave new world of parental abandonment.
Twelve-year-old Edith wants to sprout wings and fly away from the secluded farmhouse where she lives, mostly unsupervised, with her 16-year-old brother Kenny. Their mother is gone and their father spends his time at work or with his new girlfriend. Kenny's boyfriend Benji has parental issues of his own: His mommy still picks out his clothes for him, but she doesn't know her teenage son is spending time with his "study buddy," looking up words like fellatio and homosexual.

Both parents are imposing figures who never set foot on the stage. In fact, though their offstage actions speak loudly, adults are completely absent from A. Rey Pamatmat's 2011 Humana Festival hit, Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them.

Although Pamatmat's characters cope with real-world issues like parental abandonment, the three-person ensemble is not unlike the Peanuts gang, whose only encounters with adults are characterized by an unintelligible "WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH" off-screen.

Managing dad's money

In the absence of adult figures, Edith and Kenny teeter between adulthood and childhood. Kenny must carefully budget his father's weekly bank deposits to pay for food and gas, yet he inhabits a world of pinky swears and clandestine meetings in the school library. Edith hides a bow and arrow behind the living room couch as if she's one of Wendy's Lost Boys; and as the play's title suggests, she wields a pellet gun with confidence.

But do these characteristics make Edith a play for "a younger target audience," as the Inquirer's Wendy Rosenfield contended? (Click here.)

On the contrary, 30-something theatergoers will probably appreciate the play's tribute to George Michael's "Faith" as a nostalgic anthem of '80s youth culture (Steve Pacek, as Benji, performs a virtuosic Walkman rendition of the song). It will take you back to a time of mix tapes, rotary phones and secret paper notes folded origami-style, all of which have long since been replaced by the far less romantic smart phone.

Adults as kids

Pamatmat's dialogue captures the melodrama of adolescence, but the play itself is hardly naÓ¯ve. The characters struggle as adolescents often do, awkwardly but honestly.

Theater Confetti's production is playful, directed with an ear for comedy by Aaron Cromie. Big belly laughs are abundant even as the characters deal with life-changing events, mostly involving love and rejection.

And don't be put off by the idea of adult actors playing adolescents; all three actors are skilled at their craft. The entire production, in fact, takes care of the audience just as the play's ethic suggests that its characters ought to take care of each other.

What, When, Where

Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them. By A. Rey Pamatmat; Aaron Cromie directed. Theatre Confetti production through March 24, 2013 at The Power Plant Basement, 233 N. Bread St. (off New St., between Second and Third), Philadelphia, PA 19106. www.theatreconfetti.com.

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