This past summer, I was lucky enough to land an internship at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, one of the foremost developmental theatre companies in the country. I could write for days about how amazing my experience was, but I want to talk about a specific play. As an intern in the literary office, I was the lit rep for two shows: a gorgeous two-person musical called The Shadow Sparrow, and a new play by Dan LeFranc called Troublemaker, or The Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright. I was so excited to learn yesterday that this play is getting its world premiere next season at Berkley Repertory Theatre. You can read the Playbill article here.
I’m excited to see this play get produced not only for personal reasons, but because I think it is a unique play that will bring something new to the national theatre scene. Dan calls it a “tweenage epic,” and it really is epic in scale. There’s an on-stage boat race/battle, for one thing. It reminds me of the sea battles we talked about in DR101, though this one won’t (presumably) involve flooding the stage. The point is, it’s theatre on a grand scale. Not technically grand–it’s not a play that asks for elaborate sets or effects–but with a grand scope. It’s fast paced, with many different characters, settings and situations. Though I’m all for Ibsenite dramas, I do feel that sometimes things need to be shaken up a bit, and a play that feels like an adventure film is not a bad way to do it.
One of my other favorite things about this work is that it’s about children, but not for children. It’s an adult work that is focused on preteen characters and their delusional but also truthful worldview. In today’s often distressing, often depressing world, I think this play will be very well received. It’s escapism but it’s not mindless. It’s entertaining, but with a point.
I’m not doing the play any justice in my attempt to explain it. But just trust me: Troublemaker is a fresh, exciting work and I’m so pleased it’s getting produced. I just hope I find some way out to Berkley to see it…