Don't worry. The kids are all right in this tale of youth limping along by themselves. Those of us who are watching are doing the suffering.
The best of people, with the best of intentions, do not necessarily make the best of art. Case in point: Mu Performing Arts, director Randy Reyes and actor Isabella Dawis have distinguished themselves with terrific work during the past decade. Their intent with the new play "Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them" was to give a young playwright a production of his work. "Edith" is being rolled out in several regional theaters. This commendable effort certainly has given playwright A. Rey Pamatmat a good sense of his writing.
All the better for Pamatmat. However, this well-meaning process can be rough on those of us who have to watch. Mu's production, directed by Reyes and starring Dawis, opened on Friday at Mixed Blood in Minneapolis. Bring pillows and board games.
Pamatmat appears to have something to say. It involves kids living on their own -- or not; a spunky punk who protects the household with her BB gun, and two boys who find their greatest purpose in talking about pleasuring each other.
Pamatmat uses maudlin sentimentality to make his case that we should care for these three. In the distance is a father whom, we assume early on, has abandoned the children or is perhaps a figment of their imaginations. Later, Pamatmat makes the old man a presence by the children's reactions to his unheard and unseen edicts. Why doesn't he appear?
That wouldn't fit Pamatmat purposes, though, so he twists the plot and manipulates situations, never clearly articulating his point of view. And Reyes has no success bringing coherence to this disjointed and immature collection of scenes.
As to Dawis: I have enjoyed watching her grow as a performer for nearly eight years, starting with a charming turn as "Annie" at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. She displayed mood and introspection brilliantly in "Disney's High School Musical" and courage in "Iqbal." When she played Tuptim in "King and I" at Bloomington Civic Theatre in 2010, we marveled at her maturity and presence. The little girl had grown up.
So why is this intelligent young woman playing a spoiled brat of 12? Reyes and Pamatmat's script require nothing more of her than ill-tempered rants and manufactured moxie -- which is just another word for spunk, and you know what Lou Grant thought about spunk.
Alex Galick as Kenny does not seem to have his heart in the game. Yes, the play is a dog, but Galick needs to make it bark. Matthew Cerar goes the opposite direction as Kenny's boyfriend, Benji; you wish at times -- many times -- that he'd reel it in.
Mu gets a gold star for giving a playwright a look at his work. Gold is not cheap, though, and it comes at our expense.
Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299