Children’s Theatre of Charlotte has always been conscientious about presenting
age appropriate plays to segments of its audience.
One of the most difficult groups to find balanced, realistic plays for is
teenagers. So it’s gratifying so
see a serious drama for teens handled in a straightforward manner.
“Deadly Weapons” by Laurie Brooks is also part mystery, part
thriller. What’s interesting
about this drama is the way the slowly revealed layers create a believably
Three teens are hanging out, but bored. Serena
(Emily Moore), new to town, is eager to please her new friends Jessie (Abbey
Spoon ) and Moss (Daniel Szmczyk). The
dialogue is by turns sarcastic, taunting, immature, and funny like kids would
talk. Jessie, the obvious leader of this small group, wants some
action and demands the other two think of something to do. Serena is timid and flustered much of the time, trying to
figure out what is expected of her and what she can do about it.
Moss, younger brother to a tough, popular, older brother, tries
desperately to impress both girls, finally taking out his brother’s knife.
That’s the first deadly weapon, but the title is plural.
What’s the other? Words.
The decision is made to go next door to old Mr. Leisner’s
house to search for clues about his missing son, Corey, who disappeared one day
and hasn’t been seen since. The
teens enter his house, and problems escalate from there when Mr. Leisner comes
home before they can “escape.” Choices
are made by all of them along the way that affect the outcome.
The audience finds out disturbing information about each teen as more is
revealed; as things go terribly wrong. For
all their tough posturing, these young people have been hurt by neglect/abuse
from the adults in their lives. Without the resources to make good decisions,
they flounder, and make bad ones. Yet,
even though their intentions are very different from what happens, they are
responsible for their actions.
Director Matt Cosper does an admirable job working with his
young cast. Abbey Spoon is
excellent as the demanding, aggressive Jessie.
Both Emily Moore and Daniel Szmczyk are good in their parts and show
bright promise. Sidney Horton is
affecting as old Mr. Leisner in a seasoned performance.
The technical staff and crew are outstanding at
Children’s Theatre so that the production design, lighting, sound, art,
costumes, etc., lend the right tense, claustrophobic atmospherics to the
What really added to the experience of the play was the
discussion with the audience afterward led by Mr. Horton.
When a play introduces topics such as physical abuse, alcoholism, crimes
like breaking into homes, and stabbing, discussion is badly needed to help the
audience deal with their feelings about what they have just seen.
This is not only responsible, but it makes it a learning experience.
The actors read statements about their characters for the audience to
agree or disagree with and comment on from their seats.
A general discussion followed. It’s
obvious everyone was paying attention, and there were many insightful remarks,
especially by teens in the audience.
Children’s Theatre of Charlotte should be commended for
dealing sensitively but realistically with important, tough subjects on a level
teenagers can understand and appreciate.
By Laurie Brooks
Performed March 28 - April 6, 2008.
Photos by Donna Bise.
Ann Marie Oliva
Marie Oliva's plays have had over 80 productions across the US. She is founder
of the playwrights in residence at Theatre Charlotte in North Carolina. Ann
Marie is producer/editor of ARTS à la Mode, a
website devoted to the arts that includes film and local theatre reviews.
~ Cast ~
Serena: Emily Moore
Jessie: Abbey Spoon
Moss: Daniel Szmczyk
Mr. Leisner: Sidney Horton
Director: Matt Cosper
Scenic Designer: Micah Morrison
Costume Designer: Jeffrey Hamby
Lighting Designer: Jonathan L. Dillard
Properties Designer: Peter Smeal
Sound Designer: Van Coble, Jr.
Sound Board Operator: Paul Setzer
Production Manager: Joseph M. Novak
Technical Director: Jeff Weeks
Literary Manager: Lucy Hazlehurst
Costume Shop Manager: Amy Akerblom Holroyd
Stage Manager: Brenda Arko
Assistant Stage Manager: Arielle Gross
Scenic Artist: Tim Parati
Master Carpenter: Andrew Gibbon
Master Electrician: Barbara Berry
House Carpenter/Crew Chief: Jeremy Holroyd
Light board Operator: Patrick Kirby
Costume First hand: Dorothy Barnes
Wardrobe Supervisor: Samantha Burroughs
Deck Crew: Emily Bebber