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All Childish Things

a Drama
by Joseph Zettelmaier

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4504

SHOWING : October 03, 2013 - October 27, 2013



A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... Cincinnati, actually... in his mom’s basement, Dave and his friends are planning a risky maneuver that will deliver them from the Darth Vader-like clutches of life’s dark side.

As die-hard "Star Wars" enthusiasts, Dave’s plan involves stealing a stash of coveted collectibles. Against Jabba-sized odds, their plan is so crazy, it just might work.

This new comedy is more fun than a barrel of Wookies!

Director Scott Warren
Carter Sloan Bryan Brendle
The Big Man Rob Cleveland
Max Farley Enoch King
Kendra Johnson Cara Mantella
Dave Bullanski Michael Tarver
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Star Dreck
by playgoer
Friday, October 11, 2013
"All Childish Things" concerns a trio of friends who are avid fans of the Star Wars movies and their associated collectibles. If that doesn’t sound to you like something you’d enjoy, you’re correct. You won’t. I didn’t.

Joseph Zettelmaier’s script is most of the problem. The friends’ plan to rob a toy company’s warehouse of years’ of Star Wars collectibles isn’t all that intriguing, and the presence of heavily armed, gun-happy guards that foil the scheme is not adequately explained. Nor is the existence of a secret closet in the warehouse that contains just one fabled piece of merchandise from 1985. A lot of the coincidences that drive the plot are explained, but not in an integral, coherent way. It’s as if the playwright examined the plot points and put in a line here or there to explain any hole encountered in the examination.

Scott Warren’s direction does nothing to improve the script. He starts the production with Dave Bullanski (Michael Jared Tarver) performing actions in his mother’s basement that absolutely scream "the director told me to do this, so I’m doing it, although I have little idea why." The script has Dave’s friend Max Farley (Enoch King) hiding some file folders while Dave is exiting the room, but Mr. Warren’s blocking has Dave immediately going to the less-than-obvious hiding spot when the folders are needed. The security system on a vault in the basement sounds an alarm on the first attempt to break into it, but not on subsequent tries. It all seems lax and inconsistent.

Casting is a big problem too. Max is referred to as being overweight on many occasions, but the man playing Dave is far more portly. An Italian-named mobster who appears in the second act isn’t Italian in appearance, and does not convince us at all that he too is a Star Wars aficionado. None of the actors convince the audience that they are the characters they are playing, with one exception. Cara Mantella, as girlfriend of the third member of the trio (Carter Sloan, played by Bryan Brendle) comes out smelling like a rose. Her line readings, actions, and reactions all ring true. She, of course, is the one person in the cast who is not obsessed with Star Wars.

Tommy Cox’s set portrays a basement with one cinder block wall (with cinder blocks of unnaturally large dimensions) and the rest spackled dry-wall (with the spackle marks also unnaturally large). Stage manager Katherine Rose Tierney dresses the floor with one piece of clothing every four feet along the front of the stage, in a way that does not seem to mesh with any reality, even that of the slovenly Dave. Props designer Elisabeth Cooper has furnished the stage with appropriate props, but it’s a pretty unattractive space. Lighting designer Ben Tilley does a professional job, with a lot of effects, but they give the overall impression of a production that has let all technical personnel go their own ways.

Sound designer Thom Jenkins has his own little world of effects too, including multiple vomit sounds. The main sound effect is of Dave’s unseen mother (an uncredited voice) yelling down the basement stairs. Her accent and delivery are highly reminiscent of Wolowitz’s mother in "The Big Bang Theory," although the play was written a year before the start of the TV series. The locale is Ohio, so the mother’s non-Ohio accent seems to have been chosen for comic effect. Blatantly aiming for comedy often backfires.

The pre-curtain speech indicated that one of the reasons for producing "All Childish Things" is to encourage a new generation of playwrights. That’s all fine and well, but local-grown playwrights are producing work of equal or greater quality, and an attempt to relate to 30-something Star Wars fans doesn’t seem to be demographically astute. A lot of 30-somethings are doing family-related things, and this is not a family-friendly play. Nor is it edgy in a way that will appeal to fans of non-traditional theatre.

Playwright Zettelmaier concedes that "All Childish Things" contains some loose ends, and he has written two sequels to it. I would strongly support a decision by Aurora Theatre not to produce them. One installment is more than I cared to see. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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