The regional premiere of Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, written by Filipino-American playwright A. Rey Pamatmat and jointly presented Dec. 1-17 by Manbites Dog Theater and the Duke University Department of Theater Studies, is an offbeat coming-of-age story about the plucky 12-year-old title character (played by Wanda Jin), her resourceful 16-year-old brother Kenny (Andy Chu), and Kenny’s somewhat geeky 16-year-old boyfriend Benji (Jacob W. Tobia).
After their Filipina mother dies and their father finds a new girlfriend who monopolizes his every waking moment and wants to live somewhere else sans famille, Kenny and Edith are left alone in the family home to fend for themselves. Their dad rarely visits them; but as long as he makes monthly deposits to their banking account, Edith and Kenny can survive. They lean self-reliance and develop of stubborn independent streak that inspires Edith to pick up an air rifle and patrol the perimeter, in search of intruders to pepper with air-rifle pellets.
Duke students Wanda Jin, Andy Chu, and Jacob Tobia make indelible impressions as a preteen and two teenagers testing the limits of their freedom while the boys explore their sexuality, much to the consternation of Benji’s homophobic mother. Jin’s perky portrayal of Edith, Chu’s soulful portrait of Kenny, and Tobia’s twitchy impersonation of the nerdy Benji are three crowd-pleasing performances.
Manbites Dog artistic director and Duke Theater Studies faculty member Jeff Storer elicits exceptional performances from his young and talented cast, and set and costume designer Derrick Ivey superbly creates the various locales where the play’s events take place. Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them has many moments of merriment, but playwright Rey Pamatmat never neglects its serious underlying themes, which teach important lessons in tolerance.
SECOND OPINION: Dec. 8th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/12/08/1696373/play-puts-vulnerable-siblings.html; Dec. 7th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Kate Dobbs Ariail (who awarded the show 4.5 of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/edith-can-shoot-things-and-hit-them-at-manbites-dog/Content?oid=2720018; and Dec. 5th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Spencer Powell: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=5227. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Dec. 1st Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/12/edith-can-shoot-things-and-hit-them-is-an-offbeat-coming-of-age-comedy-by-a-rey-pamatmat/.)
Manbites Dog Theater and the Duke University Department of Theater Studies present EDITH CAN SHOOT THINGS AND HIT THEM at 8:15 p.m. Dec. 8-10, 3:15 p.m. Dec. 11, and 8:15 p.m. Dec. 14-17 at Manbites Dog Theater, 703 Foster St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.
TICKETS: $12 weeknights and $17 Friday-Saturday, except $5 Student Rush Tickets and $2 discount for seniors 62+ and active-duty military personnel.
BOX OFFICE: 919/682-3343 or http://manbitesdogtheater.tix.com/Schedule.asp?OrganizationNumber=150&SortOrder=Act.
Manbites Dog Theater: http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org/.
Duke University Department of Theater Studies: http://theaterstudies.duke.edu/.
The Playwright: http://areypamatmat.wordpress.com./ (official website) and http://playreyplay.blogspot.com/ (his blog).
The Director: http://theaterstudies.duke.edu/people?Gurl=/aas/TheaterStudies&Uil=bear&subpage=profile (Duke theater Studies).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.