By Manning Harris
A small confession: I have a lifelong fascination with siblings, probably because I have none. Be that as it may, Actor’s Express’ new play “Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them,” by A. Rey Pamatmat, running through November 26, pretty much had me at hello.
Twelve-year-old Edith (Rose Le Tran) and sixteen-year-old Kenny (Ralph Del Rosario) are sister and brother and have lost both their parents—sort of. The mother is deceased (or did she abandon them?), and their father is “absent,” as they say, but is thoughtful enough to supply small checks so the kids can keep a roof over their heads. But Kenny and Edith fend for themselves quite well, thank you. When interested or nosy adults call (teachers, bill collectors), the siblings say Dad is in the shower or has stepped out, so people won’t realize they live alone.
They are both sharp as tacks: Edith gives new meaning to the word “precocious,” and Kenny is an honors student. They are devoted to each other.
Into their lives comes a classmate of Kenny’s named Benji (Tucker Weinmann), and the first thing you know, the two boys are falling in love. Edith senses this immediately, and it’s just fine with her. There is the beginning of a charming, unorthodox family.
But the world sees things differently: Benji’s gayness is totally unacceptable to his mother, and he is thrown out of his house. But now he has a new family to welcome him. The dynamics of the three young people are subtle, delicate, and funny; and you must discover them for yourself. Oh, yes—Edith has a fierce protective streak, and she is armed with a pellet gun and a small bow and arrow.
Director Freddie Ashley has cast the play extremely well. The talented cast is particularly apt at playing teenagers, even though they are in their early 20’s. In addition, though they are attractive, they don’t look like models: They are achingly believable and moving in both their toughness and their vulnerability—especially Ms. Le Tran’s Edith.
In the wrong hands, Mr. Pamatmat’s play could easily fall apart, for the three young actors must sustain the dramatic tension of a full-length play all by themselves. I am happy to report there are no such worries here. This play, which got its start at the famous Humana Festival of Louisville, is a compelling piece definitely worth seeing.
Incidentally, you may look at Jon Nooner’s charmingly simple set and say, Oh, I must be about to see “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” I assure you that you are not.
Instead, we’re greeting a playwright at the beginning of an important career (to paraphrase Emerson) and seeing a new look at the human condition. I love it when Kenny, in a moment of fear and concern, turns to Edith and says, “Look, we’re kids!” He knows they don’t have all the answers; and therein lies his wisdom.
For information and tickets, visit www.actorsexpress.com.