George Walker's 'Problem Child' a commendable debut

Heidi Wicks
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Theatre review

George F. Walker's "Problem Child" follows the trials and tribulations of a young couple from the wrong side of the tracks as they try to regain custody of their baby daughter.

Denise (Kimberley Drake) and RJ (James Hawksley) are staying in a crappy motel room, awaiting the verdict of social worker Helen (Sharon King-Campbell) as she assesses their parenting capabilities, and essentially, their ability to play the part of civil members of society.

George F. Walker's "Problem Child" follows the trials and tribulations of a young couple from the wrong side of the tracks as they try to regain custody of their baby daughter.

Denise (Kimberley Drake) and RJ (James Hawksley) are staying in a crappy motel room, awaiting the verdict of social worker Helen (Sharon King-Campbell) as she assesses their parenting capabilities, and essentially, their ability to play the part of civil members of society.

They are former addicts. He's been in jail, and she's "turned a few tricks."

Desperately trying to get their daughter back, it very quickly becomes apparent Denise is more rambunctious than a child sugar addict who has eaten too much chocolate and hauled the monkey bars out of the ground at the playground.

Denise is a hellcat. She rages, shrieks, paces, fidgets, snaps, pushes, pulls, stomps, drinks, swears and much, much more.

RJ does his share of screaming, except his fervour is directed at the lowlives on the "Ricky Lake Show." Disgusted at the lack of morals imbedded in these classless thugs, it seems to be his escape from reality to immerse himself in the problems on TV. The irony of his rage, given that he and Denise should be guests on one of these shows, is as neon pink as the word "fairplay" written on the T-shirt he wears throughout the play.

Walker's play is a train wreck. You sense that there is no way in hell a woman like Denise would ever be given custody of a child, and she does nothing to help her cause. She doesn't even know how to play the part of a woman with morals.

Their problems quickly escalate until you almost can't stand to watch anymore. Yet as human nature dictates, we can't help but be fascinated with people in situations worse than our own. Perhaps it makes us feel better about ourselves, but like a train wreck, as much as we might feel that we should, we just can't look away.

Class Act Enterprises serve us their debut production like a seriously spiked bowl of punch. The opening scene seems like an innocent comedy, but like any vodka-based drink that at first tastes just like kiddie Kool-Aid, the ugly grown-up stuff soon creeps up on us and swoops us into a confused stupour.

This production's true strength is in the acting and directing. Lora Campbell insures her cast makes full use of the stage and that each performer gives 1,000 per cent.

Drake throws her entire body and soul into Denise - she is brimming with scorned bile that she spits at anyone and everyone, especially those who come from the right side of the tracks.

King-Campbell's portrayal of Helen the social worker is staunch and disgusted, her nuanced eye flutters and sheer incredulity at Denise's lack of morals and grasp on acceptable society reflects exactly what the audience is thinking.

Hawksley's somewhat dumb, naive portrayal of RJ makes us feel sorry for him. Here is a character with a troubled past who just wants to fit in with regular society. We're really pulling for him.

And Larry Barry's portrayal of Phillie Phillips, the motel janitor who's drunk six days a week, is straight comic relief with his own black twists.

The situation of this play occurs every single day, whether it's on Jerry Springer or on the streets of St. John's.

As Denise shrieks, "Life is crawlin' all over us here!" We wonder if people in Denise and RJ's situation ever really feel they have a chance for acceptance or justice.

Throughout this entire piece, the big question is whether Denise has one shred of morality and decency. We wonder what person in their right mind would give this woman custody of a baby. Is there any redemption in Denise?

Visit Rabbittown Theatre, April 23-24, 8 p.m., to find out.

Call Rabbittown to reserve tickets at 739-8220. If interested in having Class Act Enterprises prepare a fundraising dinner or privately cater/plan an event, e-mail: class.act.enterprises@gmail.com


Organizations: Rabbittown Theatre

Geographic location: St. John's

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments