Monday, May 31, 2010

The Metal Children

Photo: Carol Rosegg

How much responsibility for a reader's behavior resides with the author? When, if ever, is it okay for a school board to pull books from a school's library and/or curriculum? These are the two main questions addressed in Adam Rapp's fascinating new play The Metal Children. When Tobin Falmouth (played by Billy Crudup with quiet brilliance) hears that his young adult novel has become the center of a huge controversy in small town, he doesn't care much. Actually, he doesn't care much about anything other than smoking weed and wallowing in the fact that his wife has left him. But when his agent (David Greenspan, in his usual performance) bribes him to make an appearance in the small town, he finds himself surrounded by people who care very much indeed, some going so far as to treat his novel as a sort of bible/blueprint for a new life, others resorting to violence. Rapp locates the play somewhere between reality and not, and leaves many questions--both theoretical and plotwise--unanswered, which is effective. The tone is sometimes uneven, but the play is smart and often funny; supporting cast members Guy Boyd, Betsy Aidem, Susan Blommaert, and Connor Barrett invest their excellent performances with compassion and intelligence; and thoughts get provoked. Most importantly, Rapp lets all sides have their say and labels no one a hero or a villain. The Metal Children is what a play should be: full of life and ideas. (Two other things: The young woman is too too articulate. I know brilliant 16-year-olds; they're still 16-year-olds. And no one sits casually with a knife, point down, in his back pocket .)

1 comment:

Aaron Riccio said...

I know! I kept thinking that exact same thing about the knife.