Theater

Review: Good script highlights 'All Things Childish'

Three childhood friends obsessed with everything “Star Wars” create a plan to break into the Kenner warehouse and steal valuable “Star Wars” merchandise.

Dave (Eric Eilersen) is the head nerd/mastermind whose plan is as simple-minded as Jar Jar Binks. His Chewbacca-loving friend, Max (Bobby Richards), is as jittery as C-3PO, and the third friend, Carter (Alberto Mendoza), is so numbingly cocksure that I was convinced he was influenced by a Jedi mind trick.

To add to that meteor shower of madness, we have Carter’s “tolerated” girlfriend, Kendra (Stephanie Shum), who not only doesn’t understand the “Star Wars” culture but keeps throwing out misplaced references to prove it.

It’s readily apparent that this simple plan is going to get botched as they all slip further and further into the dark side.

Director Melanie Keller does a wonderful job keeping the twitchy, frenzied nerds of “All Childish Things” hitting their spots and slowing them down when necessary.

A solid applause also goes out to the often-overlooked aspect of costume design. Costume designer Rachel Lambert had each character effectively wear his or her personality.

“All Childish Things” is a two-act play with one set – a nerd’s basement – and under the guidance of set designer Angela Weber Miller, it works. The two entrances were perfectly placed, and what a fantastic display of an immature adult/nerd’s dwelling.

Not only is there “Star Wars” memorabilia covering floors, walls and furniture, but she also added what most people would expect in an old house’s basement – a washer and dryer, plus piles of old crap no one wants anymore. Super impressive.

There is a lot of frenetic yelling. Too much? I don’t think so. We were in the front row, and it wasn’t bothersome.

However, the script conveniently puts Dave’s mother to sleep, and for the life of me, I could not figure out with that much yelling how she remained conked out.

There are a few sedate asteroid field of “Star Wars” lines thrown around, but not enough that you’d need to be a crazed fan to enjoy them. With or without the nods to the franchise, the dialogue still plays well.

The characters have a buyer for the merchandise. In accordance with the volume of goods they plan on stealing, it was an excellent choice by playwright Joseph Zettelmaier to have a single buyer. Having the single buyer be mob-related was not entirely unexpected, but The Big Man, as played by Joe Foust (with a nod to Jabba the Hutt), gives the audience plenty of laughs to fill the last scene of the play.

As stated, most of the activity consists of yelling. However, the one element of physicality, as displayed by Alberto Mendoza, was a treat to watch, and it was performed with excellent work, as he was the only injured party in the botched heist.

There were a couple of minor issues. I wish there could have been someone else who voiced Dave’s offstage mother. I think a different actor would have made the role more distinct. I also would have rather not seen additional plot threads thrown into the story. The play was very streamlined, and it had a good meter to it, but the additions were not necessary.

Although the focus centers on the planning and post-apocalyptic results, the play’s ending displays something the characters previously had not considered – their own humanity and subsequent maturity.

I did not see the twists at the play’s end, and that’s a hallmark of a good script.

A very nice theater set on the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, the First Folio Theatre is a great place to watch the solidly performed “All Childish Things.” It’s a worthy trip – only one hour from Crystal Lake by car, and I’d venture about two minutes by X-Wing Starfighter.

• Rick Copper is a writer, photographer, storyteller, part-time actor and comedian with a framed master’s degree from the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism and a loose Certificate of Completion sheet of paper from Second City’s improv program. His published works include “Crystal Lake: Incorporation of a city 1914-2014.”

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