Kidstuff is a charming play about the things we do, the things that are done to us, the choices we make, the choices others make and how hard it is to come to terms with and make sense of it all.
Partial Comfort Productions has done a lovely job staging this play and the cast is in fine form. All the players handle their multiple roles with aplomb, but ultimately it is Sarah Nina Hayon in the role of Eve that makes the play fly. Hayon is able to masterfully maintain a delicate balance of emotions that elicits true empathy but never crosses the line into pity. Watching her navigate her way through her highschool experiences as revisited in group therapy and her adult life (which looks curiously similar to her highschool one) in real time is a great ride, and Hayon proves to be a great emotional vessel. He face, body and voice are able to suggest all the physical and emotional complications of her circumstances without ever being didactic. Certainly a trap into which an actor of lesser skill could easily fall. Kudos, too, to director Erica Gould for steering the entire cast clear of the obvious – and therefore much less interesting – choices.
My only criticism is that I wanted more. Edith Freni has written a really wonderful play with themes basic to the human condition and I wanted to be engaged longer and more fully. The play clocks in at not much more than an hour, so a second act is certainly a possibility. Not really a criticism, I guess, but the topics touched upon in this play are big and emotionally packed and totally universal and I found myself wanting issues to be more fully investigated. I was curious, for example, about Eve’s relationship with her mother. I wanted to know and understand why her brother is so angry and her father so distant. The list goes on. It seems to me that the fine people at Partial Comfort Productions decided to take a less-is-more approach to this play. And while that's a rule I usually think that is a good idea, in the case of Kidstuff, maybe more is more too. Although what you do get from this show is certainly a lot.
(Kidstuff plays at The Kirk Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street at 9th Ave, through September 27. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm. Visit ticketcentral.com for tickets and see the show's website, partialcomfort.org for more info.)