BWW Reviews: ALL CHILDISH THINGS at The Aurora Theatre
Writing this review has been a challenge. I recently went to see All Childish Things at the Aurora Theater. The piece by Joseph Zettelmaier is a comedy set in the modern day centering on the lives and exploits of a group of three friends whose common bond since childhood has been their love of Star Wars. Being a Star Wars fan myself, I was excited to see this piece. As it was over I walked away feeling let down. It took a long while to place why. The Aurora Theater is a wonderful venue located in Lawrenceville that is known to put on a wide variety of top shelf theater shows. They are the winners of the a number of awards including the 2012 Suzi Bass Audience Choice Award. As for the cast themselves, each delivered their parts wonderfully. I honestly couldn't think of anything negative to say about any of them. So why did I walk away from this production feeling that something had gone, as the characters in the play would have said, so incredibly "Jar-Jar"?
In the end I realized what had been grating at me the whole time was not the production but the work itself. Zettelmaier, a playwright with a number of productions under his belt, left a bad taste in my mouth with this one. His portrayal of "Star Wars Nerds" in the writing of the script is both stereotypical and insulting. From the looser living in his mother's basement, to the erratic anger-issue filled grown man working in a toy warehouse each character is written in a way as though someone was told what "nerds" are like and never spent any time getting to know one. The 1984 film, Revenge of the Nerds is less cliché than this work. Moreover, the plot of this play is so schizophrenic and makes such use of forced twists and contrived conflicts that it's a wonder the actors did so well with it. There are so many things which are just put in for no reason, or that "just happen" with no explanation that the only relationship the characters and world in which they live in have to reality is a fleeting goodbye kiss on the cheek as they hop the unicorn express to Magic Gumdrop Island. It's one of those situations where to give explanation requires spoilers, but in this case I can't imagine how it could hurt the piece. There is one character who has a gun. Every time someone yells or argues he pulls it out and waives it about threateningly (not to strangers or enemies mind you - to his childhood friends and disenchanted girlfriend). If the behavior demanded in the script were to happen in real life, there would be charges and jail time and a mandatory psyche evaluation. I feel so sorry for the actors in this play as you could almost see how they were doing the best with what they had (and believe me, they did a great job of it)! I hate giving negative reviews. I've been in theater and performing arts so long and know how much work and sacrifice goes into putting on a show and it is clear that the faults of this one do not lie either with the Aurora, the cast, or the direction - but at the end of it all the best advice I can give is to skip this one, wait for a different show at the Aurora (it really is a great theater), and go watch the real Star Wars instead (and yes, I mean the original trilogy). If you still want to brave yet one more blow to the franchise, the Aurora Theater is located at 128 East Pike Street in Lawrenceville, GA and may the force be with you!