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The Know Theatre Strikes Back with “All Childish Things”

KnowChildishthingsimage2Review by Sheldon Polonsky of All Childish Things: Know Theatre

Episode 4: A New Show. It was a dark time for Cincinnati Theatre. The holiday season was approaching, along with the usual holiday fare. But a rebel alliance at the Know Theatre, led by a ragtag band of actors, was determined to fight back…

Just in time for the opening of the new Star Wars epic, the Know Theatre presents a fresh and funny look at the generation who grew up with it. Imagine The Big Bang Theory meets Ocean 11: Three 30-something friends who grew up obsessed with Star Wars, along with one of their girlfriends, are planning a heist of priceless collectible merchandise from the Kenner warehouse in Norwood, Ohio. None of their lives have met the promise of their idealistic youth: Dave (Ben Dudley) is still living in his mother’s basement;  Max (Chris Wesselman) is trying to make ends meet as a single father; Carter (James Creque) plays in a band, “Funk Force”, that has never taken off; and Carter’s girlfriend, Kendra (Laurie Benning Roberts) is a former cinema major who is selling popcorn at the Mariemont Theatre. All of them hope that this adventure will change their lives, and it will, but perhaps not in the way they expect.

All Childish Things is a true ensemble piece, and every one of these outstanding actors gets their own chance to shine–even Mike Sherman, who comes in during the second half as the mysterious instigator of their robbery. It takes a little while to warm up to these characters, but once you do each of them seems very authentic and relatable. I especially loved Wesselman’s wookie-ish portrayal of Max who’s innocence and  good nature proves to be the heart of the group. There are plenty of serious themes of lost idealism and obsession, but fundamentally All Childish Things is a comedy, and a funny one at that. Director Tamara Winters keeps the dialogue and the action moving along a fine pace and all the timing is impeccable.

Any time I go to Know Theatre, I always look forward to Andrew Hungerford’s innovative sets and lighting, and this production was no exception. The set, Dave’s basement, is impeccably built and furnished, and kudos must go out to Sarah Beth Hall, who was in charge of props and must have scoured the city (or E-bay) for a wealth of Star Wars memorabilia. In addition, Doug Borntrager did a fine job with music and sound effects.

Finally, although anyone who grew up with Star Wars (myself included) will have a special connection with this production, by no means is it a prerequisite for enjoying it. My wife, who like Kendra wouldn’t know a nerfherder from an Ewok, loved this play and had a great time. Fundamentally, despite being grounded in the Star Wars culture, is really all about how our common bonds bring us together, and what it really means to be a hero, and that is something we can all relate to.

All Childish Things runs through December 19th and tickets can be purchased on the Know Theatre website, www.knowtheatre.com. Get on your X-wing fighter or landspeeder and don’t miss it.