The Kids Are Alright
Mom’s dead. Dad is never there. What happens when kids are left – virtually abandoned by the adults in their lives – to fend for themselves? In Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them (“Edith”), playing at Iron Crow Theatre (“Iron Crow”) this weekend only, the kids are alright. Sort of.
Written by A. Rey Pamatmat and ably directed by Iron Crow’s Artistic Director Sean Elias, Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them depicts a tumultuous time in the lives of 12-year-old Edith and 16-year-old Kenny. Forced to handle the pressures of the adult world at the expense of a real childhood, the siblings run their little household as well as they can manage. Kenny provides the best he can with the intermittent (and insufficient) deposits their absentee dad makes into their bank account. Edith views herself as the defender of their home; with an air rifle and her trusted backup – a giant stuffed frog named Fergie – she places herself on sentry duty, securing the perimeter of the farm against intruders. The duo become a trio when Kenny’s classmate, Benji, starts spending an increasing amount of time at the farm.
Pimmie Juntranggur plays Edith, the stouthearted ‘tween after whom the play is named. Juntranggur does an excellent job of playing such a young character. Her body language, facial expressions, and way of moving evoke that awkward ‘not a little kid but not a teenager’ phase we all managed to survive. Juntranggur’s fine acting shines no brighter than in Edith’s conversations with Fergie. In a particularly touching scene, Edith tells her frog about a place where 20 people care for each child; it’s a stark contrast to her own situation, completely void of adult supervision. Juntranggur skillfully portrays Edith’s combination of bravado and longing.
Mohammad R. Suaidi appears as Kenny, Edith’s big brother. In a role that could easily be played as an over-the-top stressfest, Suaidi is convincing and realistic. He adeptly conveys the Weltschmerz of being made an insta-adult, yet does not lose the curiosity and self-discovery of being a teenager. With a disarming smile and earnest manner, Suaidi clearly expresses Kenny’s desire to make everything alright for everyone, especially his little sister.
Playing Benji, a coddled math whiz who’s got some game, Matt Winer is geekarifically charming. I love how awkward and tentative Winer’s Benji is while nudging his relationship with Kenny to greater intimacy. As excellent as his cast mates are, Winer’s performance really stands out for me. He is totally on target in two important, emotional scenes. In one, he radiates the euphoric joy of new love (with the assistance of George Michael, may he rest in peace); in the other, reality crashes hard into his happiness. Winer pulls off both scenes with acumen and sensitivity.
Despite the production’s short run, Set Designer Joe Martin went all-out, creating a two-story set that housed many settings. A barn, complete with hay bales and tall rafters, is prominently featured on the stage beside a living room and bedroom. Small changes and additions transport the characters to a car, an ice-cream parlor, a school library, and more.
Lighting Design by Janine Vreatt and Sound Design by Sara Bahermez work to reinforce the sense of time and place, as well as providing cover for smooth transitions between scenes.
Edith is a coming of age story for modern times. Isolated in “a remote non-working farm outside of a remote town in remotest Middle America,” Kenny and Benji don’t have the language to contextualize their relationship as it grows more intimate and evolves into love. Edith has a sense that she is “too old to be talking to a stuffed frog and too young to be carrying a gun,” but doesn’t know how else to handle the absence of parenting in their home. Over the course of the play, each of the kids gains a greater understanding of themselves and each other, and they come a step closer to becoming the adults they will develop into.
Iron Crow Theatre, a company that “produces queer theatre for a queer city; celebrating the renegade and the unorthodox in all of us,” is having a great year. With 32 awards and nominations by halfway through their season, it’s clear the new leadership of Iron Crow is doing something right. Talented actors and a creative team that refuses to skimp regardless of the length of the run make Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them hit the mark. Your last chance to see this production is TODAY at 7:00 pm. Grab some tickets and head down to Baltimore Theatre Project and enjoy Iron Crow’s latest success.
Running Time: Two hours, with a 15-minute intermission.
Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them plays through TODAY, Sunday, April 2, 2017 at Baltimore Theatre Project – 45 West Preston Street, in Baltimore, MD. For tickets, purchase them at the box office or online.
Note: Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them explores mature themes, contains adult language, sexual content and may not be suitable for patrons under the age of 18.