Review by Shaun Maus of Good Kids: Miami University theatre
Something happened to Chloe after that party last Saturday night. Something she says she can’t remember. But it’s all over social media. Everyone has seen it. But who is telling the truth? Whose version of the story do you believe? What does that say about you?
Miami University Department of Theatre tackles a bold topic about sexual assault in its current production, Good Kids. The play addresses a number of issues current in today’s society. While the script feels a bit dated, this fantastic ensemble cast of Miami University students make the dynamic of the plot and themes crackle with excitement. Director Tori Wiggins has devoted much of the staging to playing downstage so the issues are in your face.
While the play is centered around Connor and Chloe and the question of “will you tell me the truth?”, it’s narrated by Deidre who remains on the sidelines of the play. Jack Troiano as Connor plays the character with one-hundred percent All-American football jock boy-next-door qualities without being stereotypical. He does bring the well-built football player, but in his emotionally-charged scenes of defending himself, Troiano is a brutal beauty of a boy on the verge of realizing what it means to be a man. Molly Boozell as Chloe brings a desperate vulnerability to the sexuality of a budding young woman.
The cast is a solid ensemble of teenagers. They gel not because they are not too far removed from the age of the characters they play but by the energy they bring to the script. The dialogue is rapid-fire without missing a beat, even when multiple characters are speaking and trying to get their side of the argument across. Lighting designer Cassie Mings allowed her lighting design to compliment the action and without over-stressing the heated arguments, while at the same time focusing the story on the characters through carefully placed spotlight effects.
While Deirdre is the narrator, I found the character of Skylar to be the true voice of the play. Deirdre’s tragic back story is unfortunately tacked on to the end of the play, resulting in a strange shift of focus. Despite the flaws in the script, the ensemble members performed well. The character of Deirdre has a tendency to break us out of the story with “Stop. Rewind,” allowing the bits to replay from a different perspective but not really propelling the story. Skylar, played by Marjorie Trimble, is the one who brings us deeper into the plot. She’s on stage for very short periods of time, but she’s the voice I followed. Trimble’s acting was very natural. She wasn’t merely delivering lines but speaking with the conscience of all of us in the audience. Trimble’s Skylar provides a moral compass for the craziness of the issues.
Good Kids, the script, brings an important issue into a public realm especially given it was produced on a college campus which is its focus. But sadly, it misses the opportunity to contribute anything to the social conversation in a more meaningful way.