At its heart, family is less about bloodlines than choice: who do you love, and most importantly, who loves you back? That’s the crux of Iron Crow Theatre’s production of A. Rey Pamatmat’s fine piece Edith Can Shoot Things And Hit Them, now at The Theatre Project in Baltimore for a far-too-short run which ends today.
The show explores the life of two siblings, effectively abandoned by their father after their mother’s death: Dad is a shadowy figure, checking in only by phone, present only in the money he occasionally remembers to put in the bank. Sixteen year old Kenny (Mohammad R Saudi) and his twelve year old sister Edith (Pimmie Juntranggur) are left to create a new family from the ashes of the old. Kenny becomes the caretaker, budget manager, cook and de facto parent, while Edith and her toy frog guard the perimeters of the house and barn with her BB gun, hence the title of the play.
This set of circumstances could make for a dark and brooding play, but here’s the surprise: it’s funny. And not sitcom funny: A. Rey Pamatmat has a sure way with dialogue, making his characters both real and at the same time well able to elucidate their dilemmas, a tricky thing to accomplish when all the characters are so young. Though the actors are, admittedly, all older than the characters they portray (and this is most evident with Edith), it doesn’t sound like adult dialogue put into the mouths of kids. Instead it feels like kids, forced to grow up too fast, having the emotional outbursts we’d expect, followed by then effectively solving problems most kids never dream of.
The siblings are survivors, but they aren’t destined to be solo for long: enter Kenny’s charmingly geeky boyfriend Benji (Matt Winer), and the action, somewhat lagging in the opening, begins to spin faster and faster.
The play is at its sweetest when Kenny and Benji explore their newfound love. So often coming-of-age romances underline a cliched and maudlin out-of-the-closet experience, but here, the boys meet in advanced math class, and their love of logic problems and algebra bring them together. Study buddies become more than buddies, and without much hand-wringing, the scenes are a real delight between the two, with clever dialogue and a hint of the goofy self-awareness we all had as teenagers. It’s a refreshing take on young love from a gay perspective, and the repartee between the two actors really clicks. Especially fun was a prolonged scene in which the two pass each other notes in the school’s hallway; at first furtive, they become more and more flirtatious, and the physical comedy of the scene is well directed by Sean Elias.
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Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them
closes April 2, 2017
Details and tickets
There are some production bumps along the way: some of the character’s monologues are just way too long, with too little said, and the ending of the play feels rushed and perfunctory. But the bones of this piece are so good it’s hard to fault the playwright much.
The production values are above what you’d expect from such a small venue: set director Joe Martin has designed a wonderful, multistory set that encompasses a farmhouse, barn, and bedroom, though it should be noted that watching an actress traverse a thin balance beam with no handrails ten feet off the floor makes an audience watch in anticipation of an accident rather than watch the scene itself. Sound by sound designer Sara Bahermez was likewise fine, with a soundtrack of high octane eighties tunes that made those of us from that era chuckle all the more. But sound, too, had its share of missteps, most evidently when a gunshot, integral to the action, occurred too late and too low in volume to register as such, causing more than a little confusion during the ensuing scene.
I would consider A. Rey Pamatmat’s play, fine and original. It’s always a good sign when I find myself wondering what happens to the characters after the curtain descends.
I hope they’ll be all right, that their little created nuclear family survives, and that it prospers and grows to include the peripheral grownups standing in the shadows. It looks like there might be just enough love to go around.
Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them by A. Rey Pamatmat . Director: Sean Elias . Assistant Director: Robert Corona . Cast: Pimmie Juntranggur as Edith, Mohammad R Suaidi as Kenny, Matt Winer as Benji . Set Designer: Joe Martin . Lighting Design: Janine Vreatt . Properties designer: Gretchen Hylton . Costume Design: Ben Argenta Kress, Danielle Harrow . Sound Design: Sara Bahermez . Stage Manager: Laura Hawes . Asst Stage Manager: Asad Naqvi . Produced by Iron Crow Theatre . Reviewed by Jill Kyle-Keith.
Jeff Nham says