Funny to think that my last visit to this NoHo venue back in February had also been one of my first run-ins with Arianne, who quickly became one of my most esteemed theatre-going buddies. She is a loyal The Road Theatre subscriber and I was happy to tag along with her to this world premiere production of Stupid Kid by Sharr White. Plus as someone that sees possibly even more theatre than me, I really trust her opinion as a "civilian" theatre-goer.
Through my extensive theatre visits over the past year, I can say that The Road has become one of my favorite LA theatre companies. They are very good at both acquiring and cultivating contemporary content trending in the theatre world. I've been impressed with the scripts they have brought to life or even acquired as West Coast and world premieres. They have a way of getting their hands on New York level content and making it accessible to the community. Which is why I like going there!
I can understand why a company would be anxious to jump into production for this show, even before reading the script. Stupid Kid is the second in Sharr White's planned trilogy of Colorado plays (Annapurna was the first), and was originally commissioned by Steppenwolf Theatre Company. He's definitely a hot playwright with his hit production of The Other Place making it's way from off Broadway over to Manhattan Theatre Club, directed by theatre great Joe Mantello and also sweeping up a Tony nomination for leading actress Laurie Metcalfe (LOVE her). He also writes for the hit Showtime series, The Affair. I thought I read somewhere that this playwright has also established a special working relationship with the Road, although I am having a difficult time locating that blurb at the moment. These are all great things which would also lead me to put my faith in a world premiere by this writer. However, theatre nerd alert; script-wise, Stupid Kid has an uncanny similarity to Tracy Lett's Killer Joe.
There are a few things I really liked about this show. Number one being Taylor Glibert's performance as Gigi. Her commitment to her character was impressive and her delivery was incredibly engaging. I was with her story, stance and obstacles as Chick's mother the entire time. For that I empathized with her more than any other character. Her southern dialect was also the best in show. Gold star for you. Gold star for you. Number two was that this was a "poor people problems" play because none of this would be happening to a family with a more elevated socioeconomic status. I'm just over "rich people plays" because I've been seeing it too much lately and sorry...it just reminds me of Trump's America. So thank you Sharr White for that and it makes me mildly curious to see how the other stories in this Colorado plays cycle equate. Otherwise, and again I think this is a theatre nerd problem, but I was just so distracted by how similar the play was to Killer Joe. Even so, I think the reveal could have been accomplished in a more crafty way. I would be curious to look at the last few pages of this script, as I was also confused by some of the intent there and I'm not sure if that was the director's doing or not. Besides the theater's working relationship with this trending playwright, I don't understand the intention for bringing this piece of theatre to life at this point in time. I don't get the "why now."
Stupid Kid runs at The Road Theatre Company's NoHo Senior Arts Colony space on Magnolia through November 12th. The play has its strengths in some strong performances and some moments that will definitely make you feel uncomfortable as an audience member, in the best way possible. But, I'd like to hear how someone who has never seen Killer Joe is affected by this play. If that's you, let me know!