The Actor’s Express production of the rolling world premiere of Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, by A. Rey Pamatmat, offers more than just a simple story. In fact it provides a multi-level story on society, family and the basic human need of security. Under the skillful direction of Freddie Ashley, the production is uplifting and moving, despite a few flaws within the script.
Basically abandoned by their father, sixteen-year-old Kenny and twelve-year-old Edith are left to fend for themselves. Forced to grow up too early, the two learn to cook, budget and live on their own. When Kenny and his friend Benji begin forming a romantic relationship, the three become a family that looks after one another. Each character has individual challenges to overcome throughout the play. While some of them are cliché, others are hauntingly real.
As an adult actor playing the twelve-year-old Edith, Rose Le Tran handles the challenge skillfully. The star of the show, her posture, mannerisms and voice all look and sound like a true twelve-year-old, making it easier to believe her as the innocent child. Tran’s performance throughout the play is wonderful.
As Edith’s older brother Kenny, Ralph Del Rosario strongly portrays the insecure boy who is trying to hold his family together and make the right decisions. As Benji, Tucker Weinmann complements Rosario and delivers a sincere performance.
Several scenes stand out during the play, but there are two that resonate the most. In this first scene, Kenny and Benji innocently explore sexual terms in the dictionary to justify and make sense of their own budding romance. While slightly unrealistic, it works for these characters who are somewhat geeky. During the second scene, Edith stands guard with her BB gun. Her fear and extreme need for parental security spark the movement to the play’s unexpected climax and conclusion.
A psychological look at the effects of abandonment on one level and a social message on family on another, Pamatmat’s script gives audiences a peek into the harsh realities of growing up. The idea that the adults are off stage, somewhat reminiscent of Charlie Brown, works well in this play. It reinforces the idea that the children are basically alone. However, the situation does force unrealistic dialogue in a few places, and that fact detracts from the power the script could possess.
Jon Nooner’s scenic design captures the audience’s attention immediately. Functional and realistic, the set includes a living room in front of a neutral area on one side. On the other side is a stable, complete with bales of hay. The stable also functions as Benji’s bedroom in one scene. Not to be overlooked, Rob Dillard’s lighting design impresses.
“We are the same it seems/behind the eyes…All we’re really looking for is somewhere safe and warm/the shelter of each other in the storm.” Although not in the show, these lyrics by Amy Grant sum up the sentiments of Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them. In an era when what makes a family a family seems to be the topic du jour, this play needs to be seen and adds much to the conversation.
A National New Play Network Rolling Premiere, Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them plays at Actor’s Express through November 27. For tickets and more information, please visit http://www.actors-express.com/. The play lasts around two hours and fifteen minutes with a ten minute intermission.
– Kenny Norton